Filipina migrant worker Xyza Cruz Bacani has been awarded the prestigious Magnum Foundation Photography and Human Rights Fellowship to study at the Tisch School for the Arts in New York University.
The 6-week long Magnum program will provide Bacani and 6 others scholarships for an intensive training in the ethical use of photography in the advancement of human rights.
In her Facebook post, Bacani enthuses, “All dreams are valid! Im one of the 2015 magnum fellows! Im going to see new york and finally get a formal education! Im literally crying when i received the news.”
Bacani was given the scholarship after her camera documentation of a women’s shelter for abused domestic workers.
The 27-year-old Bacani has been herself a domestic worker as a nanny and house cleaner for the last 9 years to an affluent Chinese family in Hongkong who also gave her own mother a job two decades before.
For 4 years now, Bacani has been using her one day off a week to take her digital camera, bought with a loan from her employer, to capture images on the street. She knows she is fortunate to have an employer who allows her to be immersed in photography, unlike the abused workers at the Bethune House Migrant Women’s Refuge.
Her followers now number over 13,000.
Bacani has increasingly received attention for her sharp focus on stark images from the streets of Hongkong and her native Philippines.
The Nueva Viscaya-born Filipina has been profiled in The New York Times’ Lens blog, received sponsorship from Fuji Film, showcased her work at an exhibition at the Philippines Consulate General and the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Hongkong.
In a published interview Bacani says she wishes to become a professional photojournalist and return to the Philippines to take photos that will change her home country.
Magnum Foundation scholarship fellows have become photographers for The New York Times, Time, and received awards for photography.