The photos in the gallery before you are the product of years of story-gathering in some of the most vulnerable communities on earth. As the lead storytellers at the Adventist Development and Relief Agency, Arjay Arellano (pictures) and Michael Rohm (words) have documented the experiences of hundreds of refugees, migrants, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), trafficking survivors, and those who are stateless. We carry all the stories within us. Today, we share some of those stories with you.
Personal stories are a leap of faith, an outstretched hand, a cry for help, a song of celebration. Our individual stories are tiny beams of light in the darkness. We discover a path in the fragile luminescence.
What stories do you tell? What stories do you hear?
The photos you are about to see tell a story of life in displacement. The traumatic journeys, the difficult decisions, the joyous moments, the celebrations of existence. It is an incomplete story, a frozen collection of faces captured, sentences recorded.
The words and photos remain, but the humans step out of the frame and resume the journey of life—the great story. It is a story infinitely larger and more beautiful than can be expressed within the confines of a picture or a quote.
People who have fled their homes are more than just “refugees” or “displaced” or “homeless” or “migrants” or “stateless.” Those words define the circumstance, not the character. As you tour the gallery, look beyond the labels. These snapshots of experience indicate the depth of human suffering, the complexity of the displacement crisis, the immense uphill battle toward justice and resolution, or at the very least, security, stability, and belonging. But they do not define the person.
How do you define your story? How do you define the stories of others?
These, and other questions, may follow you around the gallery. Perhaps they will follow you home. Who is vulnerable in my neighborhood, or city, or state? Who is overlooked? What are the stories I don’t hear? What are the limitations of the stories I tell myself about others? What is my responsibility in a world that is suffering?
The journey is ongoing. Follow the stories, and find your path.
You have reached the end of this stories’ chapter. We thank you for entering this space with us and taking the time to listen, to feel, and to connect. What are your reflections after your journey?
Write a word, or a couple, and contribute to a story we begin writing today.