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Photos and Stories

ARtists Underground

In Spring 2017, we commissioned several of our shelter guests,  asylum seekers, and shelter supporters to create art pieces reflecting on the theme of "Journeys. " Some artists chose to reflect on their journey through painting and mixed media, while Andrew Egbuchiem used his voice as his medium.




Refuge Reframed

The photos and stories on this page were produced by shelter guests and volunteers as part of a project entitled "Refuge Reframed." Each photographer spent 2-3 weeks exploring the city, capturing their experiences, and writing about their perspectives on their new home. Their work reflects the complexities of life in America, the transition to new spaces, and the liberties most citizens take for granted. 

"dk" (Mali)

I could not be gay in Africa. Any place I went they were kicking me out because I am gay. They killed my cousin and my lover because of me, and over twenty people in my area tried to beat me. You can still see the marks on my arms.

My brother was an Imam in our town, and he told the mosque that we cannot honor gay people. I was forced to marry a woman, but she told on me.  

So everyone in the area was against us. I wasn't allowed to go to school. 

I came to New York so I could be free. I wanted liberty. I need your help because I want to help people in my country who are in the same condition. My dream is to help them be free. People in Africa are suffering terribly because they are not allowed to be gay. Here it is an amazing thing to see how gay people are free. 

"AA": Egypt

I am AA- I’m from Egypt, but I was born in Libya and raised in a British International School. I always thought that a picture was a nice method of capturing special life events - a birthday, a wedding, or a graduation. Until my life event happened-  “The Revolution.”

I was taking photos while I was protesting in Tahrir Square in Cairo. I took photos of everything that happened. I never knew that these photo might  be a reason of preventing me from going back home. Since then, I knew that a photo could change your life.

My photos convey the freedom of street artists in New York, and how beautiful it is to be able to express yourself in the street. I also explored themes of reflection, about how can you be the same exact person living in 2 different countries. Finally, I wanted to convey the diversity of this city: the rich and the poor, the white and the black, the tall skyscraper and the tiny building. 


Dexter is a young gay man from Guyana. When he came out as a gay man in his homeland of Guyana, his community rejected him and put him out on the street. “You are no part of our community!” is what Dexter was told by his own family. As news about his sexuality became known in his community, Dexter was frequently harassed, intimidated, beaten, and eventually his life was threatened. In order to live, Dexter had to leave home and find a new, safe place to call home. He came to the United States and eventually became a direct beneficiary of the work we do here at RDJ Refugee Shelter. The last time Dexter came to the office he was so happy how is life has transformed. He is studying and living freely as a gay man. Dexter celebrated his birthday on June 7th, when asked about how he feels about people coming to united states and the currently political climate. He responded: “BE NOT AFRAID”

Food programs photo 1.jpg


Volunteers of our food pantry program, dressing vegetables.