Purushottam “Puru” Shah used the Student Media Grant to document the nexus between poverty, unemployment and labor migration in both the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and southern Nepal, drawing upon his photojournalism experience to capture the stories of labor migrants through photographs and video interviews.
ConDev’s Student Media Grant provides awards of up to $5,000 to student photojournalists interested in capturing conflict-related issues facing fragile and conflict-affected areas of the world. The grant is funded by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and inspired by the photographic work of its founder, Mr. Buffett.
In Nepal, Puru visited the districts of Dhanusa and Mahottari, since they have the highest number of labor migrants in the country. His project focused, in particular, on three groups of labor migrants: aspiring migrants, migrants still in foreign countries, and migrants who have returned to Nepal.
Puru explored the motivating factors for seeking foreign employment in addition to the challenges faced by aspiring migrants (including securing labor permits, funds for airfare, visas, vaccinations, and jobs through recruiting agencies). He also portrayed the difficulties faced by the children and spouses of labor migrants while the latter are away, often for several years. Finally, Puru documented the challenges and opportunities faced by returning migrants as they reintegrate into society.