"I came to Maine as a refugee and now I get to serve those coming after me! It feels like I have been in training for this position all my life. I know how it feels to be invisible, misunderstood, and not valued. I have a clear understanding of the barriers that newly-arrived immigrants face when they try to rebuild their lives in a white-majority such as Maine."
—Reza Jalali, author, former refugee, and executive director of the Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center
In their upcoming book, Dear Maine: The Trials and Triumphs of Maine's 21st Century Immigrants, Morgan Rielly and Reza Jalali tell the remarkable stories of more than twenty immigrants who have come to Maine during the past few decades.
Photographs by Lilit Danielyan
“I wanted to see everyone in the city feel the
sense of community we experienced when we
moved here after fleeing war-torn Somalia,” Safiya
said. “Lewiston offered us a home where we felt
like we belonged.”
“I came to the United States
with one hundred dollars in my
pocket and a heart filled with
hope for a better future."
Mohammed “Mo” Al-Kinani
“Westbrook gave me everything,” he said. “I
forever will represent Westbrook. I already have in every single fight. So that’s another debt that I need to return. The friendships. The stuff I have learned. The life."
“The path to success is a little less complicated. America has a lot of opportunities compared to Russia, where there are limited choices on what you can do, so it can get competitive. I am not sure if I could take the same career path in Russia as I am now.”
"I am an artist. Through artistic expression, one can understand life better. Most people see the world in black and white, but artists choose to see things in color."