THE THINGS WE HOLD DEAR

The Things We Hold Dear is a photojournalistic piece examining the lives of refugee families 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, Alem, and their son, Fethi.

In 2005 Woldemichael was forced to flee his home in Eritrea due to violence and political unrest. He sought refuge at a camp in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. Far away from family and friends, Woldemichael began to work in the camp and build a new life. It was there that he met and married Alem that next year, and together they created their own family and their own sense of home. Each brick of their house in was laid by Woldemichael himself.

Five years later, Woldemichael and his family make another move, this one, thousands of miles away. The skyscrapers of Seattle provide a drastic contrast from the landscape of the refugee camp Alem and Woldemichael left behind in Ethiopia. Now in Kent, Washington, they live in a one-room apartment with their rambunctious three year-old son, Fethi.

The family began to make their transition to life in Washington with the help of World Relief. 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. Both Alem and Woldemichael are able to attend English classes with other newly resettled adults.

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