Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Elder Refugee + Muzaffarnagar Riots, Shamli, Uttar Pradesh, India, 2013

Her portrait was made while in the middle of a refugee camp, a place she called home due to the riots of 2013. While the origin of the violence was up for debate, what was perfectly clear was the hardship being experienced by hundreds of thousands now without homes.

This incredible woman was forced to leave her village in the face of unimaginable violence. Thanks to the generosity of those in the neighboring district, she and her community were provided land on which they could begin rebuilding their lives.

They were doing the best that they could, building homes out of wood and fabric for the time being. Soon they would be provided bricks in order to construct better homes in which their children could sleep safely. As recent as my last visit earlier this year, most had moved back to their villages. Our hope is that they found their homes intact, even though their lives had been irreversibly damaged.

When we arrived on the morning of this portrait, my friend told me to get the camera and head to the center of the camp. He told me to put the camera together, and be ready for his arrival a few minutes later. This I did as people gathered around me, wondering about my purpose. My friend spoke with the leaders, and then we were allowed to photograph.

My friend Asrar asked me to point the ones out, even though it was impossible for me to be so direct. So we agreed on choosing the color of the fabrics in English, then he would ask each person to come forward for their portrait if they so desired. This was how we worked for an hour or so, until the sun had set.

As we visited the area of these camps this year, it was great to see only the evidence of the camps, and nothing more. To know that the people had returned home meant everything.


Note: This image was made with a Hasselblad V system.

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