The Things We Hold Dear is an ongoing photojournalistic piece examining the lives of refugee families and individuals after resettling in the Pacific Northwest. The project seeks to understand the importance of home and familiarity, by focusing specifically on what material items and cultural traditions are held onto as families adjust to a new culture and place.

The selection of images above document the story of Woldemichael and Alem. Images were captured in November and December of 2011.

In 2005 Woldemichael had been forced to flee his home in Eritrea and stayed at a refugee camp in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. He met and married Alem that next year. What was originally Woldemichael’s place of refuge was now his home. Each brick of the house they had lived in was laid by Woldemichael himself. Five years later, Woldemichael and his family make another move, this one, thousands of miles away. Now in Kent, Washington, they live in a one-room apartment with their three year-old son, Fethi. The skyscrapers of Seattle provide a drastic contrast from the landscape of the refugee camp Alem and Woldemichael left behind in Ethiopia. The family was assigned World Relief Seattle as their resettling agency. During the first three months in the Unites States, World Relief provides each family or individual with financial resources and assistance while they discover their new surroundings.

Photographs and fieldwork have been done in partnership with World Relief Seattle.