INDIA. Madurai (Tamil Nadu). 30/11/1987: Sri Lankan refugees. A young girl takes care of her brother who is suffering from severe dehydration. A refugee with a doctor’s diploma is voluntarily taking care of the ill people in the camp.

After Mexico and Sudan, I’ll take you to the Southern tip of India for the next 9 photographs. This is from a series of photographs from my work on refugees some 20 years ago.

All the refugee stories are linked here: http://www.johnvink.com/JohnVinkSite/Refugees_Stories/index.html

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I don’t normally make posts like this but

If you haven’t heard (and unless you’re South Indian, you haven’t), Chennai is currently experiencing a natural disaster, with terrible flooding and rains that won’t stop. 

At least 197 people have died. 

Peoples homes are being flooded and they have been evacuated. (My family has been evacuated to a shelter).

They’ve called the army in to help with rescue efforts.

Awhile back, there were a lot of terrible things happening worldwide and there was a lot of support and positivity aimed towards the people suffering. If you can take the time to keep these people in your thoughts and prayers too, it’d be much appreciated. A lot of them aren’t very well off, and as the rains cut off, so does electricity.

So please send some good thoughts that way


After 3000 years of caste apartheid, oppression, subjugation, servitude, subhuman treatment, genocide, colonization, invasion, white washing, gentrification, rapes, acid attacks, stoning, slavery and every other horrible crime against humanity – do you think it’s right to teach these people color blindness? Do you think it’s right to teach their children forgiveness over justice? Do you think its right to parade black people that look like them but who are in relationships with white people in front of them like they are success stories? After three thousand years of being disenfranchised and almost being genocided and erased out of history and having received no justice, would you tell these black people – we’re all humans?

Critics, however, have not been absent. MIA was accused by some of having “exploited” refugees, portraying them as “faceless masses” of dark-skinned people, and “invisibilising” female refugees. Leaving aside that it is probably not refugees but actors who perform in MIA’s video, it’s been remarkable how little attention has been brought to the fact that MIA isn’t just making political commentary on a current crisis. In fact, the discussion on MIA’s own facebook page is still raging […] MIA is not just any ordinary artist with political interests, but a former refugee herself. This isn’t news, per se, but a trajectory that can be followed throughout her many works. MIA has integrated her Tamil refugee identity throughout her long career, long before there were ambivalent concerns or sensationalist interest for refugees in the headlines. Yet her autobiography somehow always ends up being obscured when it urgently needed to be considered, as was seen in the analysis of her “Born Free” video, which was directed by Romain Gavras. MIA’s family fled Sri Lanka and underwent experiences of forced displacement and asylum before MIA became a world-renowned artist. Unlike many other commentators on the crisis, she has personally experienced and trespassed many of the borders that she sings about. When she talks about refugees, she doesn’t just talk about strangers, but about her own community, family and, most importantly, herself. On a telling note, MIA dedicated “Borders” to her uncle, who arrived in the UK in the 1960s and enabled her to survive. The issue of borders is, in other words, not a mere abstraction or theory to MIA, but a very personal tale that reflects her own journey from Jaffna to London. […] So when MIA sits on the vessel sailing through the Indian Ocean, she isn’t just “traveling with refugees” or “accompanying refugees” on their journey, as many reporters have described. No. She is a part of that very journey, albeit positioned in a different tense. Such autobiography with such difficult subject matter is something we only rarely encounter in pop culture.  This is also reflected in some of the imagery used. Scenes in which dark-skinned refugees sail on crammed, colorful fishing boats through the sea or wade through steep water connect to images from the exodus of Tamil people from Sri Lanka towards India and Southeast Asia. Despite such visual and historic connections drawn by the artists, the music video being shot somewhere in South Asia and not Europe (as are many of the Tamil artists’ videos) and being released on Tamil Remembrance Day, Western media somehow still manage to reduce MIA’s political commentary to a Europe-oriented one, rather than a global one.

I’m 27 & divorced. I had such a big struggle being a social stigma after being divorced. I was equivalent to a widow in India. No flowers to adorn my long hair. No colorful sarees (so I didn’t attract more attention than I needed). And most importantly, no bindi or as we say in Tamil pottu. Why? Because I no longer had a husband. Absolute rubbish.

I RECLAIMED the bindi because it’s my identity as a Hindu Indian woman. I cut my hair & called it a day. Now I’m not saying non Hindu women can’t wear it. I’m saying there’s a symbolic reason to why I do wear it now. I take pride in having it again because it was once taken away. Not again. It’s mine. Be respectful and kind. 🙏