Enri Canaj arrived in Greece from Albania as a child. Throughout his career, he has documented the movement of people and helped to share their stories. His new book presents eight years of this work. Titled “Say Goodbye Before You Leave” it covers three continents, 13 countries, and 25 cities and small towns. Here, Enri shares some background to the book, his story, and those he heard. You can preorder the book here.
“Following the Arab Spring, this project started when I was documenting the very first boats carrying migrants to EU waters, and the last episode covers the tragic fire in the Moria refugee reception center in Lesbos. It combines images of migration throughout various stages: showing people’s arrivals, the first years of the ones who made it to their destinations, and the situations of those who are still waiting on the other side.
I have been documenting people’s journeys for several years, moving from one country to the other in step with those people who allowed me to photograph them, capturing the initial reactions and circumstances of the first days in Europe and how these quickly turn into the first years. All of this was very familiar. These people’s present walked in parallel with my past.
I was 11 years old when my parents decided we had to leave our country. When you leave something behind, suddenly it feels like the umbilical cord has been cut. All the same, you don’t have the time to say goodbye; you must go on and embrace the pain within.”
About the book’s title, Enri explains:
“While photographing the Covid-19 situation in Moria, I met 6-year-old Masha and her family from Afghanistan. Masha was a child full of life and curiosity, with many friends from all over the camp. The only joy she felt during the time there was when she visited her friends and families in their tents. The day before my departure, her words to me will remain always in my memory as a bittersweet feeling: ‘Come and say goodbye before you leave.’
The book is dedicated to all those kids who embark on a journey without knowing.”
Say Goodbye Before you leave is available to preorder here.