Photographers' Blog

Cross-country protest

By Thomas Peter

“It feels good to walk in nature after so many months of boredom in the Immigration Holding Centre,” said Sallisou as we walked along a poplar-lined alley in the sleepy hinterland of Potsdam-Mittelmark, a rural county just outside the German capital of Berlin. Two weeks earlier, the smiling man from Niger had joined a 600 km (372 miles) foot march of refugees. With every county border they crossed, they were breaking a state order that restricts their movement to a territory around their camp. At present, Sallisou was eagerly filming the procession of refugees with a small video camera.

“Since I have been on this march, my days have a purpose again. There is so much to organize and we do it ourselves. We work as a team. Being on the move feels like I have a home again,” Salissou said.

For these people whose stories of displacement and rejection are as varied as the places they come from, ‘home’ means self-determination, the feeling of being needed and the knowledge that they are heading for some sort of reachable goal, all of which they have not had since they fled their countries.

The destination of the protest march is Berlin, where they want to set up a tent camp and tell the German public what it is like to live as an unwanted person with nowhere to go in a country that is free for everyone else.

They say that they have had enough of the humiliation, the languor and the uncertainty in the refugee camps. There’s nothing to fill the empty days in the barren corridors of their overcrowded camps, often former army barracks – no access to education, no regular work, only countless cigarettes, alcohol, drugs and the ever present fear of deportation, they say.

A mile in her shoes

By Stephen Lam

Call it goofy, weird, fun.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve been tasked to photograph something with all the above. As photojournalists, we are always on the hunt for compelling images that give our audience a ‘feel’ of the scene. That said, it’s not an everyday event where your photo assignment puts a focus on people’s shoes.

I was given such an assignment recently to photograph the tenth annual Walk A Mile In Her Shoes annual event in the city of San Jose where men, women, teens, and adults walked a mile in high-heels around city blocks to raise awareness for sexual violence.

According to the Department of Justice’s 2010 National Crime Victimization Survey, 268,574 cases of rape and sexual assaults were reported. To put it in perspective, that translates into a case occurring every two minutes. While the numbers have fallen dramatically in recent years, there are still many unreported cases and it’s very sad to see such staggering numbers.