11 Aug 2022
'Keeping Home and Hope Alive' exhibition gives an insight into how Afghan refugees are adapting and integrating into Irish life
An Afghan photographer who escaped the Taliban takeover last August is showcasing his work in a new exhibition in Dublin marking the first anniversary of the crisis.
Barialai Khoshhal came to Ireland in October 2021 under a refugee programme operated by Amnesty Ireland and the Irish Government.
He has been documenting the lives of other Afghan refugees in Ireland ever since.
He said: "My photographic work for this exhibition started with finding comfort and solidarity with my fellow Afghans and sharing our stories and culture. I had this idea to show the feelings, situation and the journey of the people who moved to different countries. I wanted to show the melding of two cultures."
Barialai is originally from Kandahar, Afghanistan's second-largest city.
He was working as a photojournalist for a range of international media outlets when he discovered his life was under threat.
He explained: "Being a journalist is one of the hardest jobs in Afghanistan. I had to leave my family, my home, my successful career to get to safety and it wasn't easy. It was the hardest decision of my life. I miss my home very much but want to make a new home here with all that entails."
Barialai has previously had photo exhibitions in Kabul, France, Toronto, Tehran, Jakarta, Stockholm and Washington DC.
In 2017, he was named UNESCO's Kabul Photo Biennale winner.
His latest work, 'Keeping Home and Hope Alive' gives an insight into how Afghan refugees are adapting to new ways and integrating into Irish life.
Barialai said: "It's a very emotional journey for me. This is a very personal story to me. It has given me learnings about other Afghans and our home, through the perspective of a new sense of place and how we create a new community here - of strangers who have become family.
"I have moved from fear and sadness to exploring new joys and ways of being. I look forward to working more and documenting other people's lives."
The 'Keeping Home and Hope Alive' exhibition runs until 3 September at Photo Museum Ireland.