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Thoughts of an exile
Afghanistan. 1990
The first step you take as an exile is to leave your country, often at the risk of your own life. After this difficult transition, you begin the subtler process of trying to rebuild. You have found a refuge through exile. Your new country is a sanctuary where you are physically safe and have intellectual freedom. Now you have to adjust to the emotional displacement of being a stranger. Inside you is the memory of your lost country, and disappointment of the Promised Land. Beyond the joy of being free, there remains, too, a feeling of mourning for your native land. A familiar smell, food that tastes like a dish back home, a countryside that evokes scenes from your childhood, someone speaking your language, so you hear once again the melody of your native tongue; for the exile, the joys of the present are full of the memories of the past.

"A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members." —Mahatma Gandhi

In my view, refugees are the weakest and most vulnerable members of our society, our human family.
Over the last three decades, I have borne witness to the conflicts which tear apart the world. Refugees, displaced people, exiles – all are victims of the barbarities of man and the chaos of history. Their lives marked by drifting and wandering resonate deeply for me. Since 1983, in tandem with my reportages, I have been volunteering my time throughout the world to train refugees and other vulnerable populations in the language of images. This helps to enable them to pass from passive victims to actors involved in recounting their destinies. This year, 2015, will mark the inauguration of my large-scale photography project, Exile Voices, which blends reportage with my training sessions in refugee camps.
 

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