Nick Oza is an Indian American photographer born in Mumbai. Starting in 2006, he has been working with the Arizona Republic as a staff photographer. He specialises in covering social issues, among them immigration, child welfare, gangs, and mental health. Oza was part of the Knight-Ridder team awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2006 for its coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and 2017 The Wall Project for USA Today. In 2003 and 2005, he was embedded with the U.S. military to photograph the Iraq war for Knight-Ridder. He has received more than 120 awards for his work, including 2018, & 2012 Rocky Mountain Emmy for his video documenting problems in Arizona’s Child Protective Services. His works have been exhibited extensively.
I visited Assam, India, in 2010 as part of my global photography project on immigration. I had already witnessed several immigration-related issues in the US and wanted to compare them with the situation in other countries. During my two-week-long stay in Assam, I visited several border towns to understand more about the unique problems faced by the people there. I witnessed so much poverty in Assam even as immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh were trying to cross the border to escape the economic turmoil in their country.
Almost 10 years have passed since I returned from Assam. And the immigrant situation across the globe has turned much worse in the last few years. Why do people sell everything they own and just leave their country? It is not that they like to do it. Geopolitics, climate change, and communal or racial violence play key roles in uprooting people from their homelands. One thing I found common in all these people, who struggle to move across the borders, is their survival instinct. It is their only wealth when they leave in search of a new home.
The photos in this series were part of the Pulitzer entry in 2010.