The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) is celebrating refugees with a photography exhibit and community conversations, beginning in Rochester this week.
The exhibit, “When Home Won’t Let You Stay,” features photographs by James A. Bowey, a documentary photographer who explores human rights and social connections. It’s currently on display at Rochester Community and Technical College.
Bowey and experts from DHS’ Refugee Programs Office will participate in a community conversation on Thursday, June 29, from 6 to 8 p.m., in the college’s Hill Theater. The Rochester Community and Technical College Foundation is sponsoring the event. The public is welcome to attend.
The event will include:
- A brief welcome by DHS Assistant Commissioner of Children and Family Services Jim Koppel, and
- A roundtable discussion among community members, facilitated by Bowey, with contributions from Refugee Programs Office representatives.
“Refugees have struggled greatly to get here,” said Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper. “We want to listen to their stories, welcome them to Minnesota, and talk with them and others about the refugee experience.”
In 2016, more than 3,000 refugees came directly to Minnesota, and another 2,000 refugees moved here from other states. Outside of the Twin Cities area, Kandiyohi, Olmsted and Stearns counties had the largest growth in refugee populations. In Greater Minnesota, St. Cloud and Rochester welcomed the most refugees arriving directly from other countries.
The Refugee Programs Office helps refugees meet their basic needs and connects them to local agencies to access food, shelter, medical screenings and social services during their first three months in Minnesota. Beyond that timeframe, the office also helps those who are eligible for public assistance programs to access cash, food and other services.
Another community conversation will be scheduled in St. Paul in August.