“I gave them the tools to reflect, to show, and to document”

Humanitarian and documentary photographer Abhijit Alka Anil has recently returned from a trip to Greece, where he documented A Drop in the Ocean’s operations and taught photography to our community volunteers.

Foto/Photo: Priyanka A.R.

Abhijit is a trained documentary photographer and photojournalist, holds a master’s degree in sociology, and has extensive experience with communicating and documenting the works and projects of different non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in difficult and conflict-ridden areas in India. He moved to Norway in 2019 after his wife Priyanka was offered a job here.   

“When my wife and I moved from Mumbai to Oslo, I was offered a documentary project with the UN Development Programme. But I had to cancel it because we were in the process of moving,” he says. 

“I was researching several NGOs when I came across A Drop in the Ocean. I reached out to the organisation, and thankfully you wanted to work with me. It was an amazing opportunity.”

Reflections of society

Abhijit visited Nea Kavala and Skaramagas refugee camps on the mainland, and Vathy refugee camp on Samos.

Using his experience, skills, and knowledge, he documented our work in the camps and organised lessons in basic photography to our community volunteers.

“It is really important that documentary photographers, like me, gain access so that we can reflect what is happening and the state of refugees in Europe. The reality on the ground is always different,” he explains.

“My job is to show how people are rebuilding their lives with the help of humanitarian organisations like A Drop in the Ocean and many others, and to reflect what is happening in society through the medium of photography”.

Photography lessons for community volunteers

While in Athens and on Samos, Abhijit organised basic photography lessons for our community volunteers – camp residents who also work with A Drop in the Ocean. He has previously taught photojournalism in Mumbai and loves to share his knowledge.

“Teaching has always been my thing. I always start with the questions «what do you think is the best camera?», and «what do you think is the worst?». The answer is, there is no best or worst camera. You always have a camera with you, which is your eyes and your observation. If you miss that, you miss everything.

Abhijit teaching photography to community volunteers in Skaramagas. Photo: A Drop in the Ocean

“When I taught the community volunteers, I gave them the tools to reflect, to show, and to document. They have more access than me and it is better the story come from them,” he says.

The refugee situation in Greece is changing rapidly with camps closing, new camps being built, and refugees and other migrants being transferred from the islands to the mainland.

Upon his arrival in Athens, Abhijit learnt that the Skaramagas refugee camp will soon be closed, which, for him, highlighted the importance of documenting our work on site and teaching community volunteers “the right moment to click”.

“Otherwise, it is gone forever,” he says. 

Eternal Happiness

Abhijit also goes by his artistic alias Eternal Happiness, which he has legally trademarked, and is currently working on finalising a photobook documenting the lives of ‘Totos’, a small indigenous tribe in India.

“In all of my travels in my home country of India and other countries, and consistent Reiki meditation practice for 18 years, what I have carefully observed is that every human being or animal strive for eternal happiness and nothing else,” he explains.  

“Documenting the Toto tribe connects with my recent trip to Greece. As a documentary photographer, I am all about the humanitarian issues and the struggles that people face every single day, and how human beings build up their lives in spite of all these struggles. I would like to keep photo documenting the projects of different NGOs in the field like I did for A Drop in the Ocean”.

Read more about Abhijit a.k.a. Eternal Happiness and his works on his website.