About Migrants of the Mediterranean
What We Do. What We Believe.
Migrants of the Mediterranean uses Humanitarian Storytelling as its means 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 inequalities of how we live together now.
How We Work
Migrants of the Mediterranean founder, 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 establishes one-on-one meetings and with permission records his or her journey story: the means, routes and duration of travel, and the human rights abuses endured throughout it. No matter who they are or where they’ve come from, she does not discriminate. She is interested in all humanity that embodies the migration phenomenon, regardless of their personal experience and history.
Pamela maintains regular communication with any person met on Lampedusa island, or on the Italian mainland, should he or she decide to initiate contact. Initial contact is always made at the migrant’s discretion. She then conducts fieldwork across Italy, from north to south, an effort to reunite with available people in continuation of their journey stories, which highlights the asylum process and 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 collecting data, compiling figures and calculating statistics 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. 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.
Impact is heard in the voices of people when we make ourselves available to connect after their entry into society post-rescue and reception. There is often 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 a 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 struggles. We tell them they are not alone. We always remind them they are important.
Impact is seen in the social awareness we bring through the body of migrant journey stories and through the MotM founder’s personal essays and photo essays of encounter. We inform those in policy development, scholarship and the media to account for the accurate dissemination of information about the migrant experience, and we maintain a long-term archival storybank of migrant accounts, words, photos and events as a valuable resource in the tradition of narrative history.
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 beyond––as a migrant often means cultural and social isolation, long waiting periods for asylum hearings, substandard housing and sometimes intimidation from housing managers; and confronting racism.
Who We Are
Pamela Kerpius is the sole operator of MotM, as its founder, writer, photographer, and migrant communications point person.
She personally greets migrants in Lampedusa––and now in cities across Italy––and records their journey stories in one-on-one interviews. She maintains regular personal communication with anyone who wishes to stay in touch, then conducts fieldwork from north to south, meeting the people she before only knew in their fragile first days after rescue. Her goal is to reunite with every person interested to meet again, even as logistics may restrict it.
She currently splits her time between New York City and Italy.