It’s been a while since I last wrote, and it’s been a busy time for me. During the past six weeks or so, I’ve been working with Save the Children (UK)‘s Egypt office to develop communications material for its Irregular Migration of Minors programme. If you are a fan of my Facebook page or follow my tweets, you will doubtless have seen some of my images from this assignment already. Today, I’m happy to be able to share some of the official releases of my work here, proudly carrying the Save the Children logo, as well as that of the European Union (EU), the programme’s funder.
Poster created for Save the Children’s Irregular Migration of Minors programme.
Along with its project partners Save the Children (Italy) and an Egyptian NGO called the Youth Association for Population and Development (YAPD), Save the Children (UK) is seeking to identify and promote alternatives to the undocumented and illegal migration of young Egyptians – often children – to Southern Europe via its Mediterranean coast. The cost of such a journey can be financially crippling for these youths’ families, and the risks involved are grave. Many suffocate while crammed into tiny spaces below deck, or else drown in the final desperate swim to the shore (one recent calamity is documented in this news article). Others are simply cheated and deposited further along the Egyptian coast and told that they’ve reached Italy. Even if they make it safely to Europe, many further challenges await them, signalling an abrupt end to their childhood.
Save the Children’s approach to this problem is based on youth mobilisation, skill building, community response and encouraging state and non-state institutions to develop policies and practices that empower and enable those who may consider ‘irregular migration’ to improve their living standards in Egypt so as to reduce the risk that they will leave. Two-metre-tall prints of the posters shown here, above and immediately below, were used around the venue of a conference entitled ‘Empowering Young People to Reduce Irregular Migration’ held in Cairo this week for CEOs and corporate social responsibility (CSR) professionals.
Posters created for Save the Children’s Irregular Migration of Minors programme.
I have been working alongside Save the Children and YAPD staff, who have introduced me to children from coastal villages (particularly Borg-Meghezil), young men who had returned from working illegally in Europe and parents whose children are either in Europe now or died trying to get there. Through my photography, I have sought to capture both the essence of the problem of irregular migration – particularly the push factors that lead young people to flee in such numbers – but also the hopes of children and their families for better future prospects.
I have also had the chance to indulge the travel photographer in me, as I have paid a couple of visits to the town of Rashid (Rosetta), famed for the discovery of the ‘Rosetta Stone‘, which helped Egyptologists unlock the code of hieroglyphics. This place is brimming with potential as a tourist destination, with beautifully restored Ottoman era buildings, a tranquil and picturesque waterfront and a bustling traditional market, yet there is hardly a tourist in sight. Save the Children is presenting this as an opportunity for CSR investment. Rashid is just a short hop from several villages that send many minors to Europe illegally. The prospect of a career in tourism may provide a firm incentive to stay home. Of the five postcards below, the last one comes from the material I have produced for this particular campaign.
Postcards created for campaign work by Save the Children’s Irregular Migration of Minors programme. Click anywhere above if you want to be able to read the text – it will open in a larger size and you will be able to zoom in for a closer look.
Stay tuned for more from this work on these pages, as it is still ongoing. On 2nd September, for example, I added two photo essays, ‘Irregular migration, the problem (Save the Children)’ and ‘Irregular migration, an alternative through CSR (Save the Children)’.