Zimbabwe in Focus (2 of 5)

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This is part two of a five part assignment for IOM International Organization for Migration on the rebuilding of Zimbabwe after an unprecedented economic and civil collapse. Photos Copyright ©2009 Austin Andrews / International Organization for Migration (IOM) except where noted. Not to be reprinted or reproduced without permission.

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This past August, Will van Engen (blog link) and I visited Zimbabwe on a photographic assignment for IOM International Organization for Migration, an intergovernmental organisation dedicated to promoting safe and humane migration in high-risk nations. Few countries recently have been in the headlines as much for migration issues as Zimbabwe, a failed state wracked by economic implosion where one third of the population now lives abroad, much of it illegally in neighbouring South Africa.

As a photography trip, it was ill-conceived: IOM organised an itinerary that compressed an entire country’s worth of far-flung project sites into one week of shooting. A Land Cruiser sent us tumbling down some of the worst roads in the world, chasing light and perpetually behind schedule. For every ten minutes spent travelling we’d be lucky to have a minute shooting. But as an experience it was one of the richest and most worthwhile trips of my life. I look back on the photographs below with rose-tinted fondness.

Part two in what I’ll admit is an only occasionally compelling series focuses on IOM’s livelihood and employment programs for families and returning migrants in rural Manicaland, near the Mozambican border.

In Manicaland, a family crowds around as water gushes from a deep borehole pump.

A family crowds around as water gushes from a deep borehole pump in rural Manicaland.

Dead grass stalks line a child's walk back to her family's small rondavel village.

Stalks of dead grass line a child's walk back to her family's small rondavel village.

Midday between terms at an IOM-built, government-run school in rural Manicaland.

A midday scene between terms at an IOM-built, government-run school in rural Manicaland. This compound was once part of a white-run commercial farm that fell into disrepair after President Robert Mugabe's forced land grabs put it in the hands of urban blacks with no previous experience in farming.

Attentive eyes know.

Attentive eyes know.

Lessons for Wednesday 26 August 2009.

Lessons for Wednesday 26 August 2009.

An uncertain hand in the back of the class.

An uncertain hand rises in the back of the class.

The women behind the scenes of a local bakery, one of the many employment schemes IOM runs for returning migrants in the rural Mutare area.

The women behind the scenes of a local bakery, one of the many employment schemes IOM runs for returning migrants in the rural Mutare area.

Bread's last daylight as dough.

Bread's last daylight as dough.

Store delivery.

Hot loaves, hand delivered.

Hot loaves, hand delivered.

Hot loaves, hand delivered II.

Replacing the now-defunct Zimbabwean dollar in April as the country's official currency, a single US dollar now buys what 10,000,000,000,000 (10 trillion) Zim dollars once did.

Replacing the now-defunct Zimbabwean dollar in April as the country's street currency, a single US dollar now buys what 10,000,000,000,000 (10 trillion) Zim dollars once did.

Another IOM initiative, this community garden provides growing space, seeds and water access for 28 its members. The residents of these sunbaked rural highlands otherwise has little access to fresh vegetables.

Another IOM initiative, this community garden provides growing space, seeds and water access for its 28 members. The residents of these sunbaked rural highlands otherwise has little access to fresh vegetables.

Local children work away in their father's plot.

Children work away in their family plot.

Prudence.

Prudence.

The fingers and shadows of ownership.

The fingers and shadows of ownership.

Construction implements and evidence.

Construction implements and evidence.

Author

Austin Andrews is a Vancouver-based photojournalist and occasional filmmaker with a penchant for finding the fantastic in the everyday. Contact him at austin [at] disposablewords [dot] net

2 comments

  • As I am sitting here at my wit’s end, frantically searching the internet for a chipmunk costume for this silly commercial, you post these images. I am instantly slapped in the face with perspective and spend the next 10 minutes staring at your photos and wondering why I’m here and not there helping, documenting, or doing something more useful with my time than googling “DIY chipmunk costume”.

    But I digress.. the point is your image truly reach out beyond the screen. You capture all these seemingly mundane moments of the everyday, but they breath such life into a place I’ve never seen and story I’ve never heard. I feel like if I close my eyes I can feel the sun on my face and the dry earth under my feet.

    The second image of the child walking through the dead grass is one of my favourites of yours. Composition + moment + light = Amazing shot.

    Reply

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