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.
Purushottam “Puru” Shah is a Master’s student in the Georgia Institute of Technology’s College of Computing. Originally from Nepal, he first came to the United States in 2008 to pursue an education at Trinity University, where he earned a BS in Engineering Science and a BA in International Studies. While there, he also worked as a photojournalist for The Trinitonian, the university’s weekly newspaper.
Since then, he has continued to use photography to tell compelling stories. For instance, he recently created a digital platform to share positive anecdotes about the lives of people in southern Nepal, who are known as “Madhes”. Through additional writings featured by Nepal’s national media and Madhesi Youth, he has brought particular attention to the social injustices faced by women and Madhesis. A firm believer in the power of open data to strengthen democracy, he has also performed data analysis on a number of issues including corruption, the status of education, the economy, development indicators and aid for earthquake survivors in Nepal.
- (TRAVEL BLOG) “UAE and Nepal: The Plight of the Labor Migrant”
- (PHOTOS) “UAE and Nepal: The Plight of the Labor Migrant”
- “High Risk and No Return” – featured in the Nepali Times, 26 January 2017
- Student Media Grant
- Bangladesh & India: Human-Wildlife Conflict in the Sundarbans
- Ethiopia: Fighting for Childhoods
- France and Greece: A Day in the Life of a Refugee
- Guatemala: Rephotography
- Haiti: Rural Food Security through a Woman’s Lens
- India: Boosting Nutrition through Female Ag Extension
- India: Ethnic Conflict and Forest Governance in Assam
- Kenya: Learning Empowerment as a Refugee
- Mali: Markets and Household Food Security
- Nicaragua: Natural Resource Conflict
- Nigeria: Boko Hazards
- Peru: Land Use in Protected Areas
- UAE and Nepal: The Plight of the Labor Migrant