Refugees

Photographer captures the hope & resolve of global refugees

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Alishia McCoy was so moved by the faces staring at her from the photographs on the wall at Jerome Library, and by the stories that accompanied them, that she just had to tell someone. She turned to the two men also looking at the display of images of refugees. Those photographs made her reconsider her life. Attending Bowling Green State University from Cleveland, McCoy was very aware that most students here have more than she has. Many receive gift cards from parents, she has to work for everything she needs. “I could write a book about things that could be better,” she said. But here was the image of a woman who gets a kilo of beans and two tablespoons of salt every two weeks. “These people have nothing,” she said. “Literally only their bodies.” As it turned out one of the men was Tariq Tarey, who was a refugee himself and now lives in Columbus. His mission is to capture the stories and images of refugees around the globe. These were his photographs. And just a photograph inside the study room nearby could be of an older man from Brooklyn, not from a Greek refugee camp, so could McCoy or either of the men be the subject of one of the photographs. All are humans. “Refugee Stories from Three Continents” opened at the library as part of the Immigrant Ohio Conference held earlier this month at Bowling Green State University, The photographs will remain on display through April in the first floor of the library, inside the study room adjacent to the Thinker’s Café and on the wall outside. Tarey is no stranger to the world. He was born in Mogadishu, the son of a Somali diplomat. He spent a good part of his youth in the Arabian Peninsula and in India before arriving as an asylum seeker in Columbus. That’s where he got involved in photography. He loved the craft, but more than just taking photos, he wanted to use his art to help people. Tarey he said he was “jealous” of the way European immigration was documented, but little is known about new refugees and immigrants from Africa like himself. At first that was documenting the Somali refugee community in Columbus, then to camps in east Africa and in Greece to visit others who have fled their homes. He uses a 4 by 5 sheet camera and makes black and white prints. This technology, he said, dates back to the American Civil War, so he knows it will last. Digital technology comes and goes. He doubts the staying power of the millions of images on Facebook and Instagram. He wants his work to last. He saves all the odds and ends from his travels, but the most important element are his…

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