More than 20'000 Nepalese migrant laborers work in the Himalayan district of Ladakh, North India, mostly in road and building construction. Unwilling (and often unable) to bear the economic hardships back home, they decided to undertake the long journey North, in hopes of a brighter future. For most of them, such hopes have yet to materialize. Poor, displaced, uneducated, shunned by the locals, and vulnerable to the harsh high altitude climate, they slave away among the rocks and dust of Ladakh.
Many of the laborers are not just individuals, but families with children. Because of the volatility of their parents' work, the children spend their days on dusty construction sites, rather than in schools. Without education, they are set to become the same as their parents. The future now rests on the children's shoulders. Only they can fulfill their parents' hopes, and prove to them that the journey they took upon themselves so many winters ago was worthwhile.
In November of 2011, I spent a month in Ladakh to document the Nepalese migrant community. "The Dream They Carry" follows my path through the colorful streets of Leh, across flat and arid expanses and along azure rivers, up to passes at the end of winding valleys, surrounded by snow-capped mountains. On the way, as I spend time among rugged workers, large families, and abandoned children, I get a rare glimpse at what goes on behind the scenes in Ladakh. The resulting film is a testament to human suffering and hope.