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Enri Canaj: Say Goodbye Before You Leave

Presenting eight years of this work, Enri Canaj's book, “Say Goodbye Before You Leave”, shares the stories of migrants' journeys and lives after they have left their homeland.

Enri Canaj

Enri Canaj A small boat reaching the Greek coast. Lesbos, Greece 2015. © Enri Canaj | Magnum Photos

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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.”

Enri Canaj A group of teenagers from Syria partying at the city metro station, their safe hide-out. Berlin, Germany 2018 © Enri Canaj | Magnum Photos

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.

Enri Canaj Moria camp on fire. Lesbos, Greece. 2019. © Enri Canaj | Magnum Photos
Enri Canaj "Runway Ghetto” houses about 2000 migrants who are seasonal farm workers .

Italy, 2018 © Enri Canaj | Magnum Photos
Enri Canaj Celine from Chemnitz. For one year, she has been meeting secretly with Raffat, a young boy from Syria. Germany. 2018  © Enri Canaj | Magnum Photos
Enri Canaj Asylum seekers waiting in line to register at Moria's reception center. Lesbos, Greece. 2015. © Enri Canaj | Magnum Photos
Enri Canaj After the big fire in Moria all the people evacuated spent 1 week on the island hill. Lesbos, Greece 2020. © Enri Canaj | Magnum Photos
Enri Canaj First step in Europe. Inousa, Greece. 2014. © Enri Canaj | Magnum Photos
Cover: Say Goodbye Before You Leave
Back cover: Say Goodbye Before You Leave
Spread: Say Goodbye Before You Leave
Spread: Say Goodbye Before You Leave
Enri Canaj Food line. Idomeni, Greece. 2016. © Enri Canaj | Magnum Photos
Enri Canaj Ahmed from Afghanistan, in his new house in Sweden. 2018. © Enri Canaj | Magnum Photos
Enri Canaj Ghanaian migrant in his apartment. Italy. 2018 © Enri Canaj | Magnum Photos
Enri Canaj Thousands of asylum seekers remained homeless four days after Europe's largest migrant camp was destroyed by the fire. Lesbos, Greece, 2020. © Enri Canaj | Magnum Photos
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