Shahria Sharmin

When Home Won’t Let You Stay

There are currently about 1.1 million Rohingyas in Bangladesh. Cox’s Bazar, a town on the southeast coast of Bangladesh, has one of the largest refugee concentrations in the world. Travelling back and forth to the camps, Shahria Sharmin spent months making portraits of Rohingya youths and listening to their stories of villages back home, where they hope to return one day. The result is a complex layering of landscapes, portraits, found photographs, personal testimonies, and her own narratives. 

Standing on the seashore, barefoot, lost, looking at the sky, Tosmin Ara (23), along with her son, asks God: “Why is there no place called home?”

Her adolescence ended as she fled Myanmar with nothing but traumatic memories. But her life had a new beginning at the camp. Now Nur Fatema (22) looks forward to seeing the face of her child, which will wipe away those memories.

Mobarak (27), a local fisherman, showed Nobir Hossain (25) the path to survival. They are good friends now and spend days in the open sea, both dreaming of a better future.

Fishing boat near Shamlapur camp, Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.

See the project on Witness

See more work by 2019 Joop Swart Masterclass participants here