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“A Lens of Hope” Shares the Experiences of Center for Survivors of Torture Clients

December 15, 2014

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On December 3, 2014, AACI’s Center for Survivors of Torture (CST) hosted “A Lens of Hope,” a photo exhibit from a therapeutic photography project that included 12 clients. Anjali Nigam, a CST occupational therapist, developed this project in which clients were given digital cameras. Many of the participants had never used a camera before. Through weekly discussions, participants were able to share and reflect on how the captured images and scenery in photos related to their emotions as they adjusted to life in the U.S. The project was therapeutic in their path to healing from the trauma or torture they suffered in their home country. Although the participants came from different backgrounds, each person experienced similar emotions and experiences of missing loved ones, struggling to adjust to a new country, but also feeling hope.

During the “A Lens of Hope” exhibit, each participant chose one or two photographs to present accompanied with a speech explaining its significance. Many of the participants spoke in their native language, which was translated into English. Despite the differing languages, every client had artistically captured images that related to a memory or story from their home country or their new life in the U.S.

A participant from Beijing spoke about her experience with this project:

“This is a very, very special photo group. Everyone in the group was able to display all of their emotions through the photos. When we were rehearsing for the event, I cried a lot. I thought about a lot of things, but I didn’t know how to express myself. There are a lot of thoughts to express but I could only express them through photos.”

The event provided the clients with a unique opportunity to proudly present in front of an audience for the first time and share their thoughts, struggles, and wisdom with the community. Attendees remarked about the impressive artistic talent of the CST clients and the powerful stories behind the photos!

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