Sharing the Stories of North Texas Asylum Seekers

“These are very educated people. We’re talking about human rights lawyers, nurses and theology teachers.”

By Hady MawajdehNovember 7, 2016 9:30 am, , , ,

From KERA’s Art&Seek

Every year the U.S. grants asylum to about 20,000 people from around the world. Those individuals often have difficult stories that go unheard. Human Rights Initiative of North Texas is trying to change that.

The group enlisted artists to create works based on stories from local asylum seekers. The works will be displayed and auctioned off this Saturday at the “Rock Your Heart Out” event in Deep Ellum.

On a Thursday evening in October, artist Chris Bingham and Nusrat, a client of Human Rights Initiative, meet for the first time at a Tom Thumb on the north side of Dallas.

Nusrat gives Bingham the basics, “I’m 35 years old. I’m married. I have a child. And I’ve been living in the U.S. since 2011.”

Nusrat is a handsome man. He is thin, but not scrawny. He’s got a calm demeanor and seems like a man who has life experience beyond his years.

Nusrat asked us not to use his real name to protect his safety and his family’s. He is from Afghanistan. And prior to living in the United States, he worked as a translator for the U.S. military.

“It was a service to my country and a service to the United States,” says Nusrat.

He says the region he is from is very unstable and that he helped because he wanted to be part of making things better. But his involvement only made things worse for him. The Taliban killed his close friend, his brother and his grandfather. Because of his work, he was in danger too, so he came to the U.S.

“That was not an easy decision for me at all,” says Nusrat. “But that was the only option left for me.”

Bingham is a muralist and art teacher from Oak Cliff. He paints bright and vibrant murals that are a mix of graffiti, portraits and images from pop culture.

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