In partnership with NGO Church World Service (CWS), I have developed a relationship with the communities along the Irrawaddy River surrounding Maubin Township in Southern Myanmar. These villages are the beneficiaries of CWS led education projects on sustainable agricultural practices, nutrition, and sanitation. While photographing these sessions, I met various families all of whom had been affected by the forced migration cycle that comes from living along the river. Evacuations occur yearly during rainy season when mass flooding and erosion sweep across the country. In 2015, the largest number of evacuees at 505,761 came from the south in the Ayeyarwady Region, home to Maubin. By 2016, 1.7 million people had been displaced across all of Myanmar. Communities main line of defense is building their homes and businesses on bamboo stilts. This technique is beneficial in cities, but along the river it does not protect families from losing their homes and land.
Over the course of three years, I will document three CWS beneficiary families from Sat Pine, Let Pan Tan and Sit Kone as their villages are predicted to erode in the coming rainy seasons. I will document these villages for three years with two phases per year: dry season and rainy season. Each year I will follow a different family’s migration during rainy season and follow up with that family during the following dry season along with the family(s) from the previous year’s migration. I document their environment and gather portraits, interviews and aerial photographs. Using images from my initial visit, I will show before and after images comparing land masses to provide context for what was lost and follow these families migration journey, focusing on themes of community and resilience as I document their emotional voyage.
For updates on this project, follow along on my instagram @SHANLEYSYUDIO