One of the images in the photographic exhibition "Belonging [Hononga] [Pertencimento]".
"My name is Laibar am 26 years old, I have five and six years old son. I come from Myanmar, my parent flee from Myanmar to Thailand refugee camp due to ongoing ethnic conflict in Myanmar. Around one and half million people flee their original homeland due to this war. i grow in a camp call Mea La , it was the largest refugee in Thai-Myanmar border out of the nine camp and a home to 40,000 people but it increase over time. Houses in the camp are made of bamboo and thatch with no electricity. In 2005 the resettlement program started, my family immigrated to New Zealand in 2006. Coming to New Zealand was very exciting, it was the first time that I travel outside of the camp and seen an airplane, when we move to New Zealand I was only 10. The reason my family move to New Zealand was in order to live a better life, my parent wanted my siblings and I to receive a better education. I stared school from year 6, going to school was very uncomfortable for me because I didn’t understand or know how to speak English. It was very difficult to make a friend as well, even though I had a hard time at school there were alway people who is willing to help and teach me English. For the first time in our life we were granted a citizenship, all these time we live in Myanmar we were not allowed to get citizenship due to our religious belief and different ethnic .Living in New Zealand I learned many new things and am alway thankful for the opportunity."
The exhibition reflects on the personal experience of the photographer, Aline Frey, as a migrant woman who chose Palmerston North as a new home for her family and herself.
"Belonging" is a series of 10 portraits celebrating migrant women who made Palmy their new home. By allowing characters to share their narratives as they open their hearts to spectators, the exhibition focuses on a multiplicity of ethnicities and biographies. It follows migrant stories while giving a nuanced portrayal of the city's ethnic and cultural diversity. Above all, the exhibition aims to give visibility to migrants' diverse roles in PN society, as attendees can learn and better understand the challenges and achievements of each person's journey. Attendees are also invited to reflect back on their own whakapapa and family memories while making connections and recognising the city’s multicultural formation.
The exhibition was organised by Palmeirinhos – Brazilian Heritage Group. All events organised by Palmeirinhos are open to the general public and have been attended by many members of different communities, as well as local kiwis. These Palmeirinhos events have been giving Brazilian children a sense of belonging to the new land that their parents chose to call home. Those children are learning to be proud of who they are and at the same time learning to respect and accept the cultural differences of this very diverse city.