Photo Exhibition Dedicated to the International Migrants Day

Took Place on December 20th at KAZGUU University in Astana.


The exhibition showcases more than 40 photographs and texts of the first three winning Artists/Photographers of the “Migrants: An Invisible Force In Central Asia” project, original stories produced by Dr. Nafisa Abdullaeva and Yermek Tursunov as well as a short documentary film created by film director Misko Nechak:

 “Looking at photographs of people’s life, which we meet 
everyday, you can realize that a lot of people are suffering and they remain vulnerable and have no rights. They leave their kids and family in order to provide for them. Although I already know these, but photography lets you feel it like a pit of your stomach” – Baglan, visitor of the photo exhibition.

 The project gave voice to the people of Central Asia to tell what migration means through their photos and their stories. In a region where human mobility was always part of the nomadic life, modern citizens of Central Asia are becoming citizens of the world through migration within the region and beyond. Their migration stories depend on the choices they make and the challenges they encounter, on how they engage in the societies they join and how societies receive them, on their search for a better life with dignity and respect of their rights.

«But something else has changed to bring this self-evident reality into the grinding gears of global politics with often tragic consequences.

Not long ago a sort of insider/outsider code-of-conduct meant that what the elite got barely mattered to the global poor, who were only dimly aware of the opportunities to reach a better life beyond the confines of their country`s borders. That was then.

What’s happening is that two coexisting, if starkly diverging realities are clashing on the same planet, turning the hitherto somnolent politics of many countries unpredictable—and,  indeed, volatile» -  from the message of IOM DG William Lacy Swing on International Migrants Day 2017. 

“So much pain behind these photographs, when you miss your son and husband. Kids are forced to follow their parent’s unknown journey while living in horrible conditions or should stay at home with grandma and keep asking “When my parents are going to come?” Maybe that is why they fervently pray to God, because without Him, this burden would be too overwhelming for them.” – Jamilya, visitor of the exhibition.

The aim of the PhotoStory project is to raise awareness of migrants’ rights, enhance tolerance, eliminate xenophobia and racism towards migrants’ and migrant communities. Apart from the exhibition, the project includes the production of a web documentary (duration 10min).

The IOM Central Asia PhotoStory exhibition is the outcome of an Open Call to Artists/Photographers and University Students from Central Asia conducted in March-May 2017.

A Photo-Jury panel of five members convened at the IOM Almaty office, in mid-June and decided upon three winners from the Artists/Photographers’ category Elyor Nematov, Didor Sadulloev and Diana Mindubayeva and two winners from the University Students category Almazbek Duyishebaev and Rakhat Sagynbek Kyzy


All participants had to submit with their photographs texts which explained or accompanied their series of work. In addition to that, two Central Asian writers, Dr. Nafisa Abdullaeva and Yermek Tursunov were invited by IOM Central Asia to share their own stories by reflecting on the winning photographs of the Artists/Photographers Category.


The event is organized within the framework of the project “Addressing Migration Movements through Capacity Building in Central Asia” Phase IV funded by the US Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, Government of the United States (PRM-PIM USA)