Refugee women tell their stories with photos in picture.me.here
In January, Pabrita was one of eight Bhutanese women given a digital camera and asked to document her life as a refugee for a photo exhibit called picture. me. here. Pabrita told the project's facilitators that she took the photo because her mother-in-law looked peaceful -- a feeling that was sometimes elusive in their home country. "It made her feel so good to know her mother-in-law was able to rest on something so comfortable and soft," says Kristen Damron, the women's programs coordinator for Lutheran Family Services.
The idea for the show came from Damron's co-worker, who read about a similar project in a magazine. "It sparked the idea for her that, wouldn't it be awesome if we could get some of our ladies together and have them tell these stories of their lives through pictures?" Damron says. Damron runs women's groups for Lutheran Family Services, one of a few local agencies that provide services for refugees -- people fleeing their countries because of persecution war or violence -- when they arrive in Colorado. (About 2,000 come each year.)
Reaching out to refugee women is important because they often don't have much education or speak English, she says; most have never held a job. "They're the ones raising the kids and running the household," Damron explains. "If you can build up and empower these women, it will dramatically change the course of their lives and their families.
"Oftentimes, women in the refugee world are quite overlooked as far as stories, passions, dreams and fears," she notes, "and I try my very best to give them the opportunity to share."