When Johana Amani was 10 years old, she fled the Democratic Republic of the Congo with her mother and sister to escape violence and abuse. After living in Kenya for six years, Amani’s family was approved for asylum in the United States with refugee status. On September 22, 2016, her family arrived in Portland, Oregon. Photograph by Jim Lommasson
In this photograph featured in I Am My Story, Johana Amani writes: “I lost my birth certificate while fleeing for safety from my home country Congo, DRC. I never thought I would lose my sense of belonging and identity with it. Photograph by Jim Lommasson.
In 1996, Olive Bukuru was six months old when her family fled by foot from Makamba, Burundi, roughly 100 miles to Tanzania. They were Hutus fleeing genocide. Bukuru’s father worked unremittingly on applications to immigrate to the United States, and in July 2007, Bukuru’s family boarded a plane destined for Portland, Oregon. Photograph by Jim Lommasson.
When Olive Bukuru’s family immigrated to Oregon, they brought with them one large bag and one small bag for nine people. This is the shirt she wore when her family boarded a bus from Nduta Refugee Camp to be screened before arriving in the United States. Photograph by Jim Lommasson.
About The Immigrant Story
The Immigrant Story (TIS) is a nonprofit created by Sankar Raman in 2017 in Portland, Oregon. Raman came to the United States for graduate school as an immigrant from India. After the 2016 presidential election, he decided to use his photography and his passion for immigrant stories to create an organization that works to counter the climate of anti-immigrant rhetoric and violence.
The Immigrant Story is made up of volunteer journalists, storytellers, writers, photographers, graphic designers, web developers, and marketing specialists who report on and disseminate stories of immigrants and refugees to advance a national dialogue about immigration and dispel myths about new Americans. Its vision is to provide curated and relevant content to enhance empathy and to create a more inclusive community.
Over the past four years, TIS has become a community-oriented, collaborative arts programming organization. It has published the stories of nearly 200 immigrants on their website and organized 30 visual arts exhibitions and public events exploring the experiences of Oregon immigrant communities.