A set of photographs of New Haven refugees have found a home in Silliman College.
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The Yale Refugee Project, an undergraduate organization that provides social services to international refugee families, hosted a photography exhibition Friday in Maya’s Room, Silliman College’s art gallery. The exhibit featured 12 pictures taken by refugee children alongside 12 pictures taken by student volunteers from the Yale Refugee Project. The exhibition opening, which took place from 8 to 9 p.m., was called “There’s no place like home” and showed several portraits shot in private domestic settings. In fact, Aminah Zaghab ’12, event coordinator of the Yale Refugee Project, said that while the children had freedom to take pictures of whatever they wanted, most of their pictures happened to be of family members.
The exhibition, which was financially sponsored by the Sudler Fund arts fellowship, was organized to introduce Yale undergraduates to the work the Yale Refugee Project is doing, Zaghab said.
“Yale students don’t get a chance to see how people’s lives are outside campus grounds,” Zaghab said. “We hope to encourage participation and involvement.”
The Yale Refugee Project was created two years ago based on the model of a Yale Law School group called the Iraq Refugee Assistance Project, which helped Iraqi refugee families in New Haven. Shahla Naimi ’12, president of the Refugee Project, said the undergraduate organization was founded to offer a more inclusive refugee assistance program since the refugee population in New Haven has recently increased not only in numbers, but also in diversity.
The exhibition featured pictures from three refugee families — one from the Democratic Republic of Congo, another from Iraq and another from Afghanistan — currently being helped by the Project. These families are among the oldest participants in the project, Zaghab said.
Shikufa Bismillah, 12, was one of the photographers whose work was featured at the exhibition. Bismillah, an Afghan refugee who has been in America for the past four months, took a picture of her brother and her uncle, and another one of the outside of her house.
The Project was able to get in touch with the families through the New Haven-based group Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services, which is a federally funded non-profit organization that helps refugee families with basics from filing Social Security applications to searching for jobs, Linda Brostein, a Senior Case Manager at Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services said.
“The number of refugees has been growing so much in the last few years that we simply don’t have enough manpower to help everyone,” Brostein said. “We couldn’t do it without YRP.”
The exhibition will come down on Nov. 18.
Correction: November 10, 2010
An earlier version of this article contained several errors. First, the name of the organization that hosted the photography exhibition is the Yale Refugee Project, not the Yale Refugee Project. Second, Aminah Zaghab ’12 is the event coordinator for the project, not its vice president. The focus of the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project is international, not local and the organization is still active. In addition, the anonymous exhibition participants mentioned is a family from the Democratic Republic of Congo, not the Republic of Congo. Lastly, Shikufa Bismillah has been a refugee in the United States for four months, not four years.