My name is Yunus. I was born in 1990, I do not know my exact date of birth. I am Rohingya and a Sunni Muslim. I want to make a story for the world. I want to do this for my family and also for the Rohingya people, those people suffering in the Bangladesh refugee camps.
Mohamad Yunus came to Australia via Christmas Island and Darwin in 2012. He fled the persecution that has now seen his family and approximately 700,000 other Rohingyan’s cross the border into Bangladesh to escape human rights abuses by the Myanmar military.
After receiving his temporary visa, Yunus now confronts many of the often overlooked issues that assimilating refugees encounter – isolation, poverty, joblessness, and housing affordability – as well as the constant fear for the safety of his family in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh.
As part of an innovative, world-first documentary told on Instagram, SBS created She Called me Red – a personal account of the current Rohingya refugee crisis, told from the perspective of Yunus and his family who've fled Myanmar.
I was commissioned by SBS to work with the small Rohingyan community living in Melbourne. In particular, we were following Yunus' story as he resolved to find a place in Australia while helping his family who were still in the camps in Bangladesh. Yunus left the violence in Burma a few years back, so not only was he living an uncertain future as an asylum seeker, he had to deal with the unknown of what was happening to his family, during the genocide in 2017, from afar. THe work aims to provide a visual account of Yunus as he navigates the conflicting emotional journey he encounters on a day-to-day basis.
SBS gave me a pretty long leash to work from which offered me the freedom to document Yunus story how I saw fit. As it was for an Instagram doco, it was new territory for us all, I think, so I thought I would have to make images that would stand out on a small screen. Initially I was thinking big bold colours and tighter cropped imagery, but as the story unfolded it became apparent that the basics of quality image making held true to what was working. Composition, contrast, lighting were still all important, so I ditched the Insta 'rules' and documented his life as it unfolded as I would on any of my other projects.
What the future holds for Yunus is unseen, but his commitment to family, persistence and his dreams to become a leader within the broader Australian community, are a testament to those that are given a second chance.
About Chris Hopkins
Chris Hopkins is a freelance visual journalist based in Melbourne, Australia.
Born and raised in rural Victoria, Australia, Hopkins travelled extensively internationally for six years before embarking on a photographic career. After graduating from Photography Studies College (PSC) in 2010, his creative and intuitive eye for a story saw him hired by one of Australia’s largest daily newspapers; The Age. His work has since been featured in publications such as The New York Times, The Guardian, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Financial Review, The Jakata Globe, The Global Mail, AFR Magazine, and for UNHCR and Amnesty International.
Hopkins’ freelance work has a footing in humanitarian storytelling and within this broad brushstroke, explores themes relating to race, culture, and mental health. As a photojournalist, Hopkins believes he is in a privileged position to give voice and ‘to show the extraordinary in the ordinary’. His work from Australia and around the globe aims to bring human rights issues to the forefront of public awareness with the long-term intent of changing governmental policy.
Over the past five years Hopkins has covered important humanitarian issues, both worldwide and within Australia, including cultural marginalisation in Indonesia, refugee assimilation, the mental health of war survivors in Uganda, and the dramatic rise of homelessness in Australia.
He was recently recognised by World Press Photo as a nominee in the 6x6 Global Talent Program and in 2018 was awarded the Walkley Award for Feature/Photographic essay, the highest honour in Australian Journalism. His work in the Mentawai, Indonesia, was recognised as a finalist in the 2017 United Nations Media Awards (Australia), and his work with second generation Agent Orange victims in Vietnam was the winner of the Walkley slideshow prize in 2012; two of several honours and commendations his work has earned from the Walkley Foundation for Journalism, Amnesty International, The Melbourne Press Club, and the Pacific Asia Newspaper Awards, amongst others.
The demands of being a visual storyteller in today’s evolving media landscape means Hopkins has adapted to the modern day role of a photojournalist and he incorporates video, multimedia, and features writing into many of his projects.
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