Ruom Ruom

In Khmer "Ruom Kanea" means all together, or going together. Ruom is an organic collaboration between photographers, journalists, videographers, and researchers, drawn together by a passion for social documentary work. It is a space to showcase regional and international projects undertaken by our members with the aim of giving voice to global issues that may be underreported by the mainstream media. By maintaining a high benchmark for quality work and collective editorial oversight, working with any Ruom member means benefiting from the group’s decades of experience across multiple forms of media.

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Dreaming Singapore: A Migrant's Journey
Singapore
By Ruom
12 Mar 2014

Looking down upon blue waters and tiny islands, on a plane from Indonesia to Singapore, Istiana will soon exchange a world she knows for one she doesn’t. She’s a domestic worker – and the moment she stepped on the plane her life changed forever.

Each year, 700,000 migrant workers leave Indonesia for countries like Hong Kong, Qatar, and Malaysia. The overwhelming majority are women, and like Istiana, most are domestic workers. Indonesian domestic workers form one of the largest labour diasporas in the world. They are also one of the most exploited. According to the ILO, "75 percent of Indonesian female workers endure “isolation, underpayment, long working hours, forced labour, human trafficking and violence”. Their stories are never far from the news. Each week dozens of articles appear, detailing difficult working conditions, excessive debts, and human rights abuses.

This project investigates the movement of migrants from Indonesia to Singapore, one of the busiest migratory pathways in Southeast Asia. It follows three different women at various stages of their journey: from training centres in Indonesia, to daily life in Singapore, and the return home.

The project is enriched with in-depth interviews, video reportage, and photographs taken over a 4 month period. It weaves the experience of migrant workers with the people they meet during their journeys: social workers, employers, recruiting agencies, and government officials.

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Galicia's Goose Barnacle Hunters
Galicia
By Ruom
08 Aug 2014

In the small village of Laxe, located on the Northwest coast of Galicia (known as 'Costa da Morte', or 'Coast of Death'), a small group of fishermen (40 men and 1 woman) dedicate their lives to hunting percebes (Goose Barnacles), Spain’s most expensive and sought after shellfish. These are probably the world’s most at-risk seafood gatherers as, due to the percebe’s need for oxygen, the highest quality ones grow in the most dangerous places. They are most profitably harvested in the winter, when supply is limited and the risks involved are very high.
This is the story of a few of these percebeiros during the month of December, the most crucial of the year for them. As Christmas approaches, prices get higher (a kilo could be sold for up to 180 euros) as do the waves which they have to face every day.

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Consumerism in Iran
Tehran, Iran
By Ruom
10 Jul 2014

Iran has seen a rise in the popularity of Western-style shopping and consumerism. Despite the sanctions imposed on them, the country’s economy continues to grow.

In the last few months we have witnessed improved relations between Iran and the West, while the upcoming negotiations for the lifting of the sanctions could pave the way for even more changes in the country and consequently also within the region.

Shopping has became a near obsessive ritual for young people, and especially women, who have now turned to buying beauty products and high-end western brands to fill the void of entertainment options and to “rebel“ against the array of restrictions they are subjected to.

During his visit to Cuba in 2012, former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said “thankfully we are already witnessing that the capitalist system is in decay, on various stages it has come to a dead end — politically, economically and culturally.”

But the changes that have been taking place in Iran in the last few years seem to contradict this.

Despite slow mobile Internet connections, high prices for imported (most of the time smuggled) technological products and the constant governmental censorship of the media, Iranians are frantically buying smartphones, tablets and flat screen TVs.

Even if traditional Grand bazaars continue to be the favourite places to shop for regular Iranians they now face competition from huge shopping malls, which were erected in the outskirts of major cities across the country. And these offer western-style hypermarkets, international brands and colourful gaming arcades to list just a few temptations.

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Inside the 969 Movement - The Myanmar...
Mandalay
By Ruom
04 Jul 2014

There is renewed tension between Buddhists and Muslims in parts of Burma. In March 2014 targeted violence, towards the Muslim minority in Myanmar, claimed the 45 lives and led to many homes being burnt to the ground.

In the Burmese streets, stickers sporting the numbers “969” are seen on taxis, shop windows, betel nut carts. These three ominous numbers are the symbol of a fast-rising Buddhist pride movement, presenting itself as a return to Buddhist roots and the teachings of the Lord.

But, in the new Myanmar, 969 is actually a vehicle of anti-Muslim hatred and Buddhist brainwashing.

“Muslims are fundamentally bad. Mohammed allows them to kill any creature. Islam is a religion of thieves, they do not want peace”, declares Ashin Wirathu the saffron-robed monk nicknamed the “Burmese Bin Laden.”

Far from the iconic images of the 2007 “Saffron Revolution”, popular Buddhist monks like Wirathu are travelling the country, preaching in front of thousands, urging Buddhists to boycott Muslim businesses, to avoid marrying them, hiring them or to sell property to them. The 969 movement is appealing to a deep anti­‐Muslim resentment implanted in Buddhist minds by fifty years of military propaganda. Burmese activist Maung Zarni recently confessed in a blog post: “Like millions of my fellow Burmese Buddhists, I grew up as a proud racist. For much of my life growing in the heartland of Burma, Mandalay, I mistook what I came to understand years later as racism to be the patriotism of Burmese Buddhists”.

By depicting a Myanmar on the verge of an Islamist invasion, the 969 movement is creating a framework for the wave of Islamophobic violence that has swept through Myanmar in the last months. In March, the bloodiest clashes to-date claimed the lives of forty-five people in the town of Meiktila. “At night, we sleep terribly. We are wondering when they will be coming. It is dark, it is scary. Our ears pay attention to every little noise”, said a Muslim resident of the city. Throughout the country the Muslim communities are living in the constant fear of new attacks.

Currently, 969 has seen little resistance from local or international governments. The movement is currently drafting a law proposal that would ban interfaith marriage, and four 969 monks have been working on a curriculum aimed at educating lay people and children about the ins and outs of protecting Buddhism from Islam. Set to take place in a Sunday school manner, the monks hope this new form of education will save their faith in this majority Buddhist nation but what implications will this have on cross-religious relationships? And will it instigate more religious violence?

Afraid of alienating the Buddhist vote for the 2015 elections, the democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi is staying silent on this subject. Many see, behind 969 and the religious riots, the hand of hardliners from the army trying to destroy the fragile change Myanmar is going through as the country stumbles towards democracy.

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Blood Sugar: life in the Cambodian su...
Cambodia
By Ruom
04 Jul 2014

Human rights organisations have estimated that 12,000 people in Cambodia have been forced off their land to make way for a new surge of sugar production. The European Union’s initiative ‘Everything but Arms’, which allows Cambodian sugar to be sold duty-free on the European market at a minimum price per tonne, has created a “sugar rush” in Cambodia. As a result, crops have been razed. Animals have been shot. Homes have been burned to the ground. Thousands of people have been left destitute. Some have been thrown in jail for daring to protest. Given no option but to accept inadequate compensations, villagers gave up their homes and farmlands.

The EU is, to date, yet to investigate these reports.

In the meantime, families forced off their land, who have lost their only source of income, have little choice but to work for the very companies who have claimed their land, either at factory level, or cutting and bundling sugar canes for rates as low as US$2.50 per day. The dire economic situation means that children also work in the cane fields but still the families earn barely enough money to survive.

On March 2013, a lawsuit was filed in the UK against Tate&Lyle, the multi-national sugar giant, to which the majority of exports from the Koh Kong plantation are being sent. 200 Cambodian farmers are suing the company for violating their rights as, under Cambodian law, the fruits of the land belong to the landowner (or lawful possessor in this case). According to humanitarian organizations Tate&Lyle is knowingly benefiting from the harvest of stolen land, and the rightful owners of the harvest are not receiving their share of sugar sales.
Land ownership in Cambodia is difficult to establish, due to the country’s evolving legal and political structures following the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime, and the country is slowly trying to re-establish land titling through government programs. Though in the past, and still for the time being, small-scale farmers and poor households are often forced to give up their land for little compensation.

Fair development and industrialization is a struggle for this South East Asian nation, where, for the right price, powerful landowners, wealthy businessmen, and foreign investors have their pick of the country’s prime real estate.

Media created

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Dreaming singapore 005
Jakarta, Indonesia
By Ruom
24 Apr 2014

Aspiring domestic workers wait to sign their contracts and start their training.

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Dreaming singapore 003
Kendal, Indonesia
By Ruom
01 May 2014

The billboard of a recruitment agency for migrant domestic workers can be seen along a main road.

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Dreaming singapore 006
Jakarta, Indonesia
By Ruom
24 Apr 2014

Aspiring domestic workers practice in a training centre on the outskirts of the capital.

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Interview with K. Ahmad Diman
Semarang
By Ruom
20 Oct 2014

Interview with K. Ahmad Diman, one of the sponsor who works in Kendal province, recruiting domestic workers.

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Training centre
Semarang
By Ruom
20 Oct 2014

Preparing future domestic workers to work in Singapore in a training center in Indonesia. Learning how to count and sing.

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Interview with Jolovan Wham
Singapore
By Ruom
20 Oct 2014

Interviews with Jolovan Wham, Excutive Director of HOME, one the NGOs that help migrant workers in Singapore. Domestic workers are excluded from the employment act.

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Interview of Istiana
Semarang
By Ruom
20 Oct 2014

Interview of Istiana where she talks about the pressure that is put on the women during the training process to accept working overseas without access to a mobile phone, and working without a day off.

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Interview with Tutik
Singapore
By Ruom
19 Oct 2014

Interview with Tutik, an Indonesian migrant worker, about her time in Singapore, where she is too busy to have time to socialise with friends.

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Galicia's Goose Barnacle Hunters
Laxe
By Ruom
01 Dec 2011

December 1, 2011
Laxe (La Corua) Spain

The small village of Laxe, is located on the Northwest coast of Galicia (called Costa da Morte, The Coast of Death). The economy is almost entirely based onp the harvesting of percebes (goose barnacles) and other fishing-related activities.

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Galicia's Goose Barnacle Hunters
Laxe
By Ruom
30 Nov 2011

December 1, 2011
Laxe (La Corua) Spain

The small port of Laxe's economy is based on harvesting percebes (goose barnacles) and other fishing-related activities.

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Galicia's Goose Barnacle Hunters
Laxe
By Ruom
03 Dec 2011

December 1, 2011
Laxe (La Corua) Spain

The Coast of Death is one of the most dangerous places for fishing in the world.

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Galicia's Goose Barnacle Hunters
Laxe
By Ruom
12 Dec 2011

December 12, 2011
Laxe (La Corua) Spain

Julio, one of the most skilled percebeiros, arrives at the "rivera". Today is the first day of harvesting but the sea is very rough and dangerous.

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Galicia's Goose Barnacle Hunters
Laxe
By Ruom
05 Dec 2011

December 10, 2011
Laxe (La Corua) Spain

Activity inside the small fish market of Laxe.

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Galicia's Goose Barnacle Hunters
Laxe
By Ruom
13 Dec 2011

December 12, 2011
Laxe (La Corua) Spain

8am at the bar and the percebeiros are discussing the condition of the sea and whether they can work in the coming day.

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Galicia's Goose Barnacle Hunters
Laxe
By Ruom
12 Dec 2011

December 12, 2011
Laxe (La Corua) Spain

Julio looks at the giant waves crashing on the rocks where he's going to fish. Percebeiros have to be very wary of the condition of the sea, one false step and they could fall into the ferocious current and die.

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Galicia's Goose Barnacle Hunters
Laxe
By Ruom
20 Dec 2011

December 12, 2011
Laxe (La Corua) Spain

A percebeiro gets hit by an unexpected wave.

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Galicia's Goose Barnacle Hunters
Laxe
By Ruom
12 Dec 2011

December 1, 2011
Laxe (La Corua) Spain

A group of percebeiros try to escape from an unexpectedly large wave.

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Galicia's Goose Barnacle Hunters
Laxe
By Ruom
12 Dec 2011

December 1, 2011
Laxe (La Corua) Spain

"El Presidente", one of the youngest percebeiros, empties his catch into a bucket.

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Galicia's Goose Barnacle Hunters
Laxe
By Ruom
19 Dec 2011

December 1, 2011
Laxe (La Corua) Spain

Percebes grow in the gaps between rocks and sometimes the only way to harvest them is by hand.

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Galicia's Goose Barnacle Hunters
Laxe
By Ruom
19 Dec 2011

December 1, 2011
Laxe (La Corua) Spain

A percebeiro cleans a perfect sample of percebe.

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Galicia's Goose Barnacle Hunters
Laxe
By Ruom
12 Dec 2011

December 1, 2011
Laxe (La Corua) Spain

The torn wetsuit of a percebeiro.

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Galicia's Goose Barnacle Hunters
Laxe
By Ruom
05 Dec 2011

December 1, 2011
Laxe (La Corua) Spain

The small port of Laxe's economy is based on harvesting percebes (goose barnacles) and other fishing-related activities.

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Galicia's Goose Barnacle Hunters
Laxe
By Ruom
13 Dec 2011

December 13, 2011
Laxe (La Corua) Spain

It's the second day of harvesting. Not even gale force eight winds and heavy rains can stop the percebeiros.

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Galicia's Goose Barnacle Hunters
Laxe
By Ruom
13 Dec 2011

December 13, 2011
Laxe (La Corua) Spain

A group of percebeiros get hit by a wave. Not even the gale force eight and heavy rains can stop them, Christmas time is too important.

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Galicia's Goose Barnacle Hunters
Laxe
By Ruom
13 Dec 2011

December 13, 2011
Laxe (La Corua) Spain

Julio and Feuto (right), a retired percebeiro, look at the condition of the sea. It's the second day of harvesting, but not even the gale force eight and heavy rains can stop them.

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Galicia's Goose Barnacle Hunters
Laxe
By Ruom
13 Dec 2011

December 13, 2011
Laxe (La Corua) Spain

Percebeiros secure their companions with a rope. It's the second day of harvesting, but not even the gale force eight and heavy rains can stop them. Christmas time is too important.

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Galicia's Goose Barnacle Hunters
Laxe
By Ruom
20 Dec 2011

December 20, 2011
Laxe (La Corua) Spain

A percebeiro inspects a rock to find percebes.

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Galicia's Goose Barnacle Hunters
Laxe
By Ruom
13 Dec 2011

December 13, 2011
Laxe (La Corua) Spain

The torn shoes of a percebeiro.

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Galicia's Goose Barnacle Hunters
Laxe
By Ruom
09 Dec 2011

December 09, 2011
Laxe (La Corua) Spain

A buyer inspects the quality of a box of percebes at the fish market. Most of the fish and sea food caught in the region is sold here at La Corua.

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Galicia's Goose Barnacle Hunters
Laxe
By Ruom
09 Dec 2011

December 09, 2011
Laxe (La Corua) Spain

Buyers discuss the price of boxes of percebes at the fish market in La Corua. Most of the fish and sea food caught in the region is sold here.

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Galicia's Goose Barnacle Hunters
Laxe
By Ruom
09 Dec 2011

December 09, 2011
Laxe (La Corua) Spain

Pictures on the wall of Paco Moinelo's office. He is one the most important buyers in the fish market of La Corua.

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Galicia's Goose Barnacle Hunters
Laxe
By Ruom
30 Nov 2011

November 30, 2011
Laxe (La Corua) Spain

A cross has been placed on the cliff to remember all the fishermen who died in the ocean, many of them were percebeiros.

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Los Percebeiros de Laxe
Laxe
By Ruom
16 Dec 2011

December 16, 2011
Laxe (La Corua) Spain

A group of percebeiros inspect the condition of the sea. Unfortunately it's another bad day, foam and big waves make for dangerous fishing.

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Galicia's Goose Barnacle Hunters
Laxe
By Ruom
15 Dec 2011

December 15, 2011
Laxe (La Corua) Spain

Despite the dangerous condition of the sea, Juan and Joaquin decide to go out and harvest anyway. Christmas is an important time for harvesting.

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Galicia's Goose Barnacle Hunters
Laxe
By Ruom
15 Dec 2011

December 15, 2011
Laxe (La Corua) Spain

A moment of rest for Juan and Joaquin, two of the younger and more skilled percebeiros.

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Galicia's Goose Barnacle Hunters
Laxe
By Ruom
15 Dec 2011

December 15, 2011
Laxe (La Corua) Spain

Juan and Joaquin, two of the younger and more agile percebeiros, try to escape a rogue wave. Despite the dangerous condition of the sea, they decided to go out and harvest anyway.

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Galicia's Goose Barnacle Hunters
Laxe
By Ruom
16 Dec 2011

December 16, 2011
Laxe (La Corua) Spain

Despite the bad condition of the sea, "Feuto", a retired percebeiros, and his son were able to fill their bucket with 5 Kg of precious percebe.

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Galicia's Goose Barnacle Hunters
Laxe
By Ruom
16 Dec 2011

December 16, 2011
Laxe (La Corua) Spain

"Feuto", a retired percebeiro, watches as his son navigates the cliff. He can't stay at home when the sea is in a rough condition and so he stays with his son on the cliffs.