October 22: A Panel Discussion: Iraqi Refugees In Portland @ Launch Pad Gallery

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A Panel Discussion: Iraqi refugees in Portland
October 22, 2PM

Launch Pad Gallery
534 SE Oak St Portland, OR 97214 | (503) 427-8704
More info: http://lommasson.blogspot.com/

A conversation about what it’s like to leave one’s homeland¬Â¦ life in Oregon for Iraqi refugees¬Â¦ and Iraq today.

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Panelists:

Dr. Baher Butti
Dr. Baher Butti earned his PhD in Psychiatry from Baghdad University in 1995. He worked in Iraq as a psychiatrist, activist, and prolific writer until 2006 when his community activism made him a target of the emerging Iraqi militias. He found refuge in Portland, Oregon in 2007, was joined by his wife and children by 2009, and has since been working as a counselor, Iraqi refugee advocate, and community activist. In addition to working for the Lutheran Community Services, he serves on the Boards of the Center for Intercultural Organizing, Arab-Americans Cultural Center of Oregon, Advisory committee of Colored Pencils Art group, and is the founder of the Iraqi Society of Oregon. Dr. Butti has been integral to the What We Carried project.

Lisa Kelly, Better Life – USA
Better Life – USA is a local non-profit with International roots. In 2010 after six years of collaborations and friendship, Mahar Boshra, Director and founder of the Better Life Association of Comprehensive Development (BLACD) asked Lisa to consider opening a BLACD office in the United States to heighten American awareness and raise funds for the work in Egypt; and she accepted. As Lisa started the process of setting up Better Life – USA she discovered a substantial number of African and Middle Eastern people relocating to Portland, particularly refugees. She furthered her inquiry and was both inspired and riveted through many conversations when individuals talked about the difficulty of this relocation process, and so the local focus began.

Shirook George Altaweel
Shirook George Altaweel was born in Iraq in May 5, 1965. She graduated from Almustansyria University in Baghdad and received her bachelor degree in English literature in 1986. She then worked for the Central Bank of Iraq in Oct 21, 1986. In 2003, she continued to work at the bank and had to work with the Americans in financial procedures. And because she could communicate in English, an American company offered her a job. She quit her job at the bank in May 2007, and then worked for 2 years with the Corps of Engineers, to help with their projects, Reconstruction of Iraq.
She left Iraq, with her family, on August 5th, 2009. They came to the US as refugees and settled in Seattle for 2 years before moving to Portland. In addition to volunteering for Lutheran Community Services, she worked as an assistant teacher for ESL classes for 9 months then as interpreter in social and medical services in Seattle. She continues to work as an interpreter, in the same field, here in Oregon.

Jim Lommasson
Jim Lommasson is a freelance photographer and writer living in Portland, Oregon. Lommasson received the Dorothea LangePaul Taylor Prize from The Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University for his first book, ‘Shadow Boxers: Sweat, Sacrifice & The Will To Survive In American Boxing Gyms’. In 2009 Oregon State University Press published Lommasson's ‘Oaks Park Pentimento: Portland's Lost and Found Carousel’. He is currently working on a book and traveling exhibition about American Veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, and their lives after their return from war, called ‘Exit Wounds: Soldiers' Stories Life After Iraq and Afghanistan’. The book will include Lommasson's photographs, and photographs and writing by the participants. Lommasson received a 2008 Couture stipend from the New American Art Union for the Exit Wounds exhibition. He was awarded a Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC) Project Grant for ‘What We Carried’, and is a 2012 Oregon Humanities Conversation Grant Recipient for his public discussion “Life after War: Photography and Oral Histories of Coming Home.”