We Are All Migrants
At a high school in Santiago, Chile, Chilean climber Lucho Birkner and volunteers build a climbing wall and introduce the students—who come from some 40 countries—to the mountains and climbing.By Lucho Birkner and Mateo Barrenengoa | September 1st, 2020
“We Are All Migrants” is a project and film by Chilean climber Lucho Birkner. He explains the inspiration for the project below:
When I look at a photo of the planet earth from above, I see endless beautiful things, colors, reliefs, rivers, seas … The only thing that I cannot see [are] those precious borders that human beings decided to create so many years ago. Based on this, I am a faithful believer that every human being is born on the planet, and not in a country.
Unfortunately, the reality of things is not how I see it, and each one of us has to live in a little piece of this planet, which we call a country, which has laws, religions, ideals, policies … Many countries work in a quite acceptable [way] and give their citizens a good quality of life, but many others do not. Some are really prisons and their governments have their people living in misery.
Was it their fault for being born there? Were they to blame for being born into poverty and in a place where accessing food to take care of their family is a hard work every day, where water does not provide enough for the population or where people simply die for lack of hygiene?
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When I was younger I always wondered why birds migrated, and I understood that for different reasons, such as when food ran out at one pole of the planet, or because of the temperatures … Nowadays, sometimes I think that no longer they migrate, but they flee … They flee from the mud that we have. And if they can do it, why can’t we?
As a result of this thought, the Migrants project was born.
The project began to take shape in 2019 at the Gabriela Mistral experimental high school in Santiago, Chile, with the help of a teacher Carla Boetsch. The school has a large majority of immigrant children, of some 40 different nationalities.
Beyond the simple construction of a small climbing wall—achieved with a meager budget, a lot of passion and volunteer work—Birkner and his team developed a project that included free climbing workshops, donations of material from collaborators and a rock-climbing excursion in a nearby area.
“We wanted to teach them that in the mountains we are all the same, here there are no colors, languages or races, and that finally the planet has a single language, that of nature,” Birkner said.
The entire process was filmed by the filmmaker Mateo Barrenengoa and his production company Picafilms, together with Fran Costamaillere, and was possible thanks to the involvement of numerous friends, as well as the help of collaborating brands (mainly Haka Honu ,Petzl, Fundacion Deporte Libre, Keep Climbing and Gimnasio El Muro ).
“I believe that life is better when you come to the mountains,” a girl says in the film. “It was the best day of my life.”