Refugee women tell their stories with photos in picture.me.here
This project does just that. From January to May, the women met once a week with two professional photographers, Brigid McAuliffe and Erin Preston, who volunteered to teach them basic photography skills. The refugees started off with fifteen hand-me-down cameras, only three of which are still working. Most of the women had never held a camera before, let alone used one to document their lives, Damron says.
picture. me. here. The refugee women who participated are: Dhan Gurung, Ganga Nepal, Hari Gurung, Lachi Gurrajai, Mongali Gurung, Naina Dahal, Pabitra Niroula and Pingela Kanal.
There were other challenges, too. Language was one of the biggest; since the project had no funding, it was hard to get actual translators. Most of the time, the photographers were reliant on the women's children to translate for them.
"Not up until the end did they understand the whole nature of the project," Damron says of the refugees. "They understood they were going out and taking pictures and having fun, but they didn't realize that people would come and see their art."
The exhibit includes about eighty photographs taken by the women. Most feature everyday things: bus stops, car washes, family members. Nearly every photo has a story to go with it. "Even though a picture might seem simple, there's usually a very personal meaning behind it, compared to the life they left behind," Damron says.
The refugee photographers will be at tonight's event to participate in a question-and-answer session about the project. There will also be live music, crafts for sale from A Little Something and video footage of the refugee photographers in action. Organizers have asked that attendees RSVP to email@example.com.
Prints of the photos will be for sale for the duration of the show, with 65 percent of the proceeds going to the photographers; the rest of the money will go to A Little Something. The exhibit will be up until June 1 at the Platte Forum.