Dispatches in Exile: Amplifying the Voices of Migrants and Refugees

With a few notable exceptions, the stories of people on the move are usually told through dispatches from reporters who drop in periodically to cover the “migrant and refugee crisis”. The VII Academy has partnered with the IOM to mitigate this fragmented and distorted narrative by providing migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina with basic media training and a portal through which to publish their own reports and tell their own stories. 

People on the move are frequently nameless and dehumanised, deepening the rift between them and the local population, creating an atmosphere of alienation and antipathy and too often, violence.

Everything we know about the people on the move and their precarious journey is told from the perspective of outsiders, whether humanitarian aid agencies, activists, NGO’s or by professional journalists who are frequently limited by cultural differences, language barriers, and attention span.

The project is led by VII Academy curator Ziyah Gafić. “Once upon a time I was a war refugee. Being a refugee is a transformative experience that never leaves you. The feeling of being uprooted is hard if not impossible to heal. Being on the move, leaving your home with slim prospects of return is deeply traumatic experience. Owning your own narrative is a human right. Enabling people on the move to take the narrative in their own hands can perhaps help them cope with their troubles and experiences.”

The IOM of Bosnia and Herzegovina writes: Too often it happens that the voice of migrants is not heard or persons are not given the chance to express their feelings, desires and hopes.

In this way, we want to provide migrants with a space where they can, through photography and stories, address and send a message that should help wider audience to understand their situation and needs.

Through the opportunity to participate in trainings in photography, composing and publishing stories, our goal is to encourage migrants to release repressed thoughts and feelings of loss and sadness and learn new skills

We hope that this space for the messages of migrants will be a space for their creative dialogue that will help to better inform and understand their needs and foster empathy, acceptance and inclusion.