by Eefje Ludwig
We at MAPS believe there is a need for more thoughtful, personalised and in-depth stories about migration. In Europe today, this is urgent. Over the past few decades, more and more people, alone or with their families, have come here to build new lives. At the same time, there has been increased social and political tension between these newcomers and existing communities in their host countries.
The phenomenon of human migration is not new. Throughout history, people have travelled in search of a better life. Sometimes they have been forced out of their homeland by poverty or war; other times they have embarked on their journeys voluntarily. Yet although migration is something that connects us all, media coverage in Europe often depicts migrants as ‘the other’, making a clear distinction between ‘us’ and ‘them’. And when journalism about migration focuses on numbers rather than people, it lacks the kind of in-depth, personal storytelling that can promote diversity, tolerance, social affirmation and positive change. We hope to redress this balance with our Moving On project, which focuses on individual experiences to increase understanding, and acceptance, of migrant communities.
We are very grateful to the National Geographic Society, which supported us as we worked in Europe to document the current lives of six individuals who identify as migrants. They are a child, a cook, a support worker, a human-rights defender, an artist and a musician; they are human beings like you and me. This collective project shows us stories full of hope and love, but also of grief, loss, sadness, resilience and ambition. It finds common ground in uncommon lives.
Back in 2018 when we first conceived of this project, we couldn’t have imagined what the world would look like now. In the past few years, migration, social connection and interpersonal relationships have taken on a whole new significance. The COVID pandemic brought personal challenges as well as endangering the success of the Moving On project as a whole, so we are very thankful to the contributing photographers and writers for their work, and most of all to Faten, Hadeel, Ilyas, Ivica, Mustafa and Navanpreet for continuing to believe in this project, and for opening up their lives to us.