–By Joe Harrington, Liberty Lutheran Intern
Adjusting to life in a new nation can be challenging for immigrants and refugees. That’s why the Philadelphia Refugee Mental Health Collaborative (PRMHC,) led by Liberty’s Lutheran Children and Family Service, uses therapy, support groups and arts projects to help families process past exposure to violence and current resettlement stresses. It is a lifeline for refugees who are starting over, after surviving unimaginable trauma in their home countries. An upcoming art exhibit in South Philadelphia aims to raise awareness of the lives of refugees in our community and their immigrant neighbors.
“Many refugees feel segregated by their ethnicity, which makes them feel as though their day-to-day life is much different than other members of the community, when really they are walking by the same buildings, going to the same places and doing the same things as other members of the community,” said Melissa Fogg, Immigrant Mental Health Specialist, Lutheran Children and Family Service.
PRMHC partnered with the Mural Art’s Program’s artist -in-residence, Shira Walinsky, for a unique arts project. They distributed cameras to members of the local community to document their daily lives. Cameras were given to refugee children and teens, mostly from Bhutan and Burma, neighborhood block captains, an immigrant Latino family who runs a local grocery store, and even the mailman. Their photography will be featured at the art show.
“The goal is to promote integration, share people’s lives and show that there are many commonalities in our daily lives no matter what group you identify with,” Fogg said.
The exhibit will also showcase work by artist Philip Jablon. Jablon traveled throughout Southeast Asia, photographing stand-alone movie theatres that served as meeting places of cultural significance in the region, much like the Mural Arts/PRMHC community center.
The exhibit is Saturday, September 21, 2013 from 5:00pm to 8:00pm at the Mural Arts Project/Philadelphia Refuge Mental Health Collaborative community center at 1927 S. 7th St.
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