Monday, February 24, 2014
When I first saw this photo I thought it was a staged image for something akin to Close Encounters of the Third Kind or ET. It is actually an award winning shot by John Stanmeyer called Signals. It was named the 2013 World Press Photo of the Year and it depicts asylum seekers in Djiboutii trying to capture phone signals to connect with loved ones in other countries
Stanmeyer describes it:
Immediately I was astonished by what we were witnessing — the innate desire we all have as humans to reconnect home. Over the following few days I would revisit this stretch of beach where each night there would be a new gathering of men and women waiting for that moment when all the natural layers would combine.
Speaking to many of them, the stories were always the same: the desire to reconnect to family, asking for remittance or updates on emigration papers from family living in Europe. Not all attempts to catch the signal were fulfilled. Some would stand in one place for 20 to 30 minutes, waiting for their phone to grab the faint signal that never appeared, only to return another evening to try once more.
When we hear as Christians the statistics on the refugees, displaced persons, asylum seekers of the world it is hard to grasp the magnitude, let alone the human stories attached to the figures. What can we do as people of faith to make a difference for those unnamed millions? This image is both other-worldly and very down to earth. It has a spiritual quality which can speak to us and encourage us to respond.