By Nancy Hahn
Edge: a Contemporary Art Gallery at 7001 W. Colfax will highlight the experiences and the concerns of refugees throughout the world in “Voice: A Celebration of Refugee Stories” through Oct. 28.
Imagine leaving your home with only what you can carry. What could make you take that step? Imagine you know you will never see that home again. What would you choose to carry? You don’t know where you will go or how you will live. We have seen news stories of people fleeing floods, fires, even volcanoes and it is horrifying.
A refugee, though, is a person who has had to flee from his or her home or country, because of the actions of other people. War, persecution and violence create refugees. Their homeland may practice genocide against their race or against their nationality. Their religion may not be accepted and its practice may be prohibited. Political dissidents may face imprisonment and torture and protesters fired on.
According to CARE there are 65 million refugees in the world right now. Twenty-four people a minute leave their home behind searching for a safe life. That is 34,000 people every day. The conflict in Syria, alone, has caused 5 million people to flee and that number increases daily. In 2016, there were 65.6 million refugees worldwide according to the United Nations Refugee Agency. Nearly 85,000 refugees of those refugees came to the United States. Nearly half of those refugees entering the United States came from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria and Burma. Many, also, came from Iraq, Somalia and Iran. People who leave home because of natural disasters are not, at this time, considered refugees. The United Nations has begun studying the number of people who have left their homes because of drought, environmental disasters and other effects of climate change and people fleeing natural disasters may be considered as refugees in the future.
“Voice” will show art about the experiences of refugees and artwork by refugee artists. And on Friday, Oct. 19, from 7 to 9 p.m., Edge will hold a film and discussion night. The film “Sauti” – which means “voice” in Swahili – is a powerful film that tells of the experiences of five young women from different countries in a refugee camp in Uganda. Refugee camps are meant to be temporary settlements for displaced people, but often become nearly permanent. The Kyangwali Refugee Settlement has stood for decades. Each of these young women was brought to the camp as children. They grew up in the camp. As they reach adulthood, they each try to discover ways to follow their dreams to a life outside the camp. The film follows each of the girls as they leave the camp and create their own lives. Farming, marriage, travel, education and serving the community are some of their dreams. Peninah, Betty, Napona, Beatrice and Favourite follow very different paths in their searches.
The film won awards last year at the International New York Film Festival, the Oregon Film Awards, the Spotlight Documentary Film Award. This year it received another award at the Amsterdam International Filmmaker Festival.
Don’t miss this powerful experience. Visit Edge for the stories of struggle and triumph viewed through the lens of film and of art. Edge is open on Friday from 5 to 10 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.