Every two minutes, someone is forcibly displaced. This staggering statistic was shared by husband and wife photojournalist team Daniel Farber Huang and Theresa Menders during the Sept. 22 discussion of their photographic project, “The Power of Faces,” which is currently on exhibit in the library. The figure comes from statistics compiled by UNHCR, the U.N. Refugee Agency, whose most recent data confirms more than 70 million displaced people throughout the world. Approximately 26 million of those people are refugees.
Huang and Menders have collaborated over the past 20 years on projects that focus on women’s and children’s issues as well as the alleviation of poverty worldwide. Their most recent project came from the realization that millions of displaced people have been forced to leave everything behind, including family photos. By bringing backdrops and photo printers to refugee camps around the world, including in Mexico, Greece, and Bangladesh, Huang and Menders can provide portraits for individuals and families to keep that remove the context of the refugee camps, focusing on the subjects themselves instead of their situation. Describing their time in Tijuana, Mexico, the couple notes that “There are many moments of joy and happiness in our interactions with the individuals in the photos, but there is also the reality of the challenges and hardships these individuals face every day.” Examples of these portraits, as well as behind-the-scenes images of the refugee camps, are on display in the library through Nov. 30. The photos, which help to humanize the refugee crisis, can be found on the second floor in the hallway, the Reading Room, and the Technology Center.
On Monday, Oct. 21 at 7 p.m., Menders and Huang will return to the library to lead a discussion on the global refugee crisis. Presented in collaboration with the Princeton-Trenton Area United Nations Association, the program will include a panel discussion with representatives of civil society organizations and an opportunity for audience Q&A. Menders and Huang will discuss the genesis of the project and highlight memorable moments.
Menders and Huang haven’t worked entirely alone; their children have traveled with and worked beside them in the refugee camps. Two of the couple’s children, Alexander and Celeste Huang, will discuss their experiences on Sunday, Nov. 17 at 3 p.m at the library. Alexander and Celeste have been intimately involved in creating “The Power of Faces” and have had the opportunity to spend time with refugees of all ages, particularly with teenagers whose opportunities for education have been seriously limited by their circumstances. Their presentation will provide a unique perspective on the project and on the young people who comprise nearly half of the world’s refugees.
These programs will be held in the library’s Community Room. We invite all of our community members to join us for these unique perspectives on a worldwide crisis and learn how to take action.
Photo credit: Daniel Farber Huang and Theresa Menders, “The Power of Faces“