Omaha man shares stories through "The Refugee Project"

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT)-- Nebraska currently leads the nation in resettling the most refugees per capita, and one local photographer is helping to make refugees feel at home by taking portraits.

Chris Holtmeier is looking to spread and share awareness about the humanity of new Omaha residents, as well as highlight the work of local resettlement agencies.

“A lot of these people have never had their photo taken, let alone a free family portrait,” said Holtmeier. “The close up headshot makes people interested in the subject.”

After refugee resettlement began to take over the news, Holtmeier wanted to do something about it.

“It seemed like news stories were just facts, figures, statistics, and maybe images to where they were from,” he added.

That's why Chris wanted to put a face to them. "They've been a part of the fabric of our city and our state. You can't just shut that off. It's who we are.”

Chris began reaching out to local refugee resettlement agencies last fall. His work has reached almost 10,000 people in the Omaha area so far. Right now, Chris is photographing refugee families for free.

“Hopefully that interest will turn into people actually doing things whether it's donating or volunteering,” Holtmeier added.

Chris tells WOWT 6 News, hearing what some refugees have gone through, makes him appreciate life every day. He also can't thank local agencies enough for the work they put it.

“Just this energy they have every day, 10-12 hours a day they're putting work into just making these people's lives better,” said Holtmeier. “99% of the people in this world are motivated by the same things: family, job, safety, and having enough to eat. We are more alike than we are different.”

Chris' work has mainly been with the Refugee Empowerment Center so far. He says he's working with Lutheran Family Services right now for more projects in the future.

If you would like to check out some of his work or learn more about The Refugee Project, find a link attached to this article.