About Migrants of the Mediterranean
What We Do. What We Believe.
Migrants of the Mediterranean uses Humanitarian Storytelling to present the experience of the individual migrant’s journey, from country of origin to Europe.
Migrants of the Mediterranean believes in mobility and free movement for all. We believe that by illustrating through Humanitarian Storytelling the difficult and dehumanizing passages people must make––from Africa, the Middle East, and beyond––we can develop empathy for the other, thus inspiring urgency to create alternative, safe migration routes, and affect social policy that speaks to the realities of how we live together now.
How We Work
Migrants of the Mediterranean founder and correspondent, Pamela Kerpius, personally greets migrants across the country of Italy, often on the remote Sicilian island of Lampedusa, where many people are first received after sea rescue. She then documents his or her journey story: the means, routes and duration of travel, and the human rights abuses endured throughout it.
Pamela maintains regular communication with anyone met on Lampedusa island, or on the Italian mainland, should he or she decide to initiate contact. Initial contact is at the migrant’s discretion. She then conducts fieldwork across Italy, from north to south, an effort to continue the documentation of their stories, which at this point includes the asylum process and issues in integration.
What Is Humanitarian Storytelling?
Humanitarian Storytelling is the qualitative measure of the migration flow in the central Mediterranean and elsewhere. Through it, we give voice to the people who have crossed continents, countries, desert and sea in search of safety, freedom and opportunity.
Humanitarian Storytelling is the interest in defining that which cannot be measured on a chart or graph. Our concern is the texture of the human experience, in connecting to each other through the shared elements of our humanity, rather than quantifiable data points. We leave it to the skilled humanitarian and government agencies who are expert at data collection and analysis to fulfill that need.
Why Is Humanitarian Storytelling Important?
Humanitarian Storytelling is important as it isolates the emotion of what it means to move across borders and through the central Mediterranean as one of the world’s most vulnerable. And when we are connected to that journey and the individual who lived it, we are enabled to see ourselves on parallel human terms.
Our mission is to see the trauma people have suffered on their journey as a reality we see as our own, and document it for the historical record. Only by understanding the crisis of humanity before us are we equipped to address it.
Impact is seen on the faces of people we meet when they are acknowledged with dignity. We say hello. We ask permission for their stories, and when they share them, we enable a moment of release, which they may not have had for months or years.
We have often been the first to ask about their journeys and how they are coping, and for this we are frequently the first with whom they share their personal experiences of extraordinary pain and psychological trauma.
Our impact is heard first in the voices of people when we make ourselves available to connect after their entry into Italy post-rescue and reception. There is often a cultural disconnect and acute social isolation that pervades the asylum-waiting experience; we document this stage––sometimes as their only outlet––in continuation of stories that reveal suffering does not end at the rescue boat.
Whether following up via social media, text or telephone, or by meeting again in-person in their new home cities or housing camps, we stay responsive and available to listen and talk about their ongoing experiences––e.g. asylum cases processes, integration issues. We remind them that they are not alone and that we are always available to listen and document their accounts.
Impact is seen in the social awareness we bring through the archive of journey stories and through our essays and photo essays of encounter. We account for the accurate dissemination of information about the migrant experience, and maintain a long-term archival storybank of migrant accounts, words, photos and events as a valuable resource in the tradition of narrative history; this information is further used to inform those in policy development, scholarship and others in media.
Areas of coverage include:
MOVEMENT | Movement through the central Mediterranean area means being at risk of torture, slavery, starvation, arbitrary detention and other severe human rights abuses; we find this particularly in Libya, where the unstable political landscape is a breeding ground for the business of human trafficking; and later, at risk of drowning at sea.
INTEGRATION | Living in Italy and across the EU as a migrant can mean cultural and social isolation, long waiting periods for asylum hearings, substandard housing and sometimes intimidation from authorities; as well as dealing with racism.
Who We Are
Pamela Kerpius is the MotM founder and correspondent in Italy.
She personally greets migrants in Lampedusa––and now in cities across the Italian peninsula––in historical documentation of their journey stories. She maintains regular personal communication thereafter and conducts fieldwork from north to south, meeting the people she before only knew in their fragile first days after rescue.
She currently splits her time between New York City and Rome.