A capacity crowd filled the Saxe Room of the Worcester Public Library on December 5 to hear Immigrant and Refugee Stories of Worcester Women, this year’s annual event of the Worcester Women’s Oral History Project (WWOHP). Stories of loss, gain, challenge, success, death, and new life were read. These oral histories were compelling, complex, and extraordinarily personal. The stories revealed the truths of the journeys of these women, not just their geographical journeys, but their emotional ones as well, as they left the countries of their births to travel to a strange land with strange customs and a strange language. For refugees, that journey was compounded by the baggage they harbored within, as they escaped the horrors of persecution in their homeland.
WWOHP Co-Chairs, Maureen Ryan Doyle and Charlene L. Martin collaborated with five organizations who assist immigrants and refugees by offering a variety of services. Those organizations are The Clemente Course in the Humanities, Literacy Volunteers of Greater Worcester, The Educational Bridge Center at Notre Dame Health Care, Refugee Artisans of Worcester, and Worcester Refugee Assistance Project. The immigrants and refugees, whose stories were presented and currently call the Worcester area their home, are Monica Salazar Carmona and Carmenza Ramirez from Colombia, Kenza Dekar from Algeria, Juliana De Boni and Edna Froio from Brazil, Yahui from China, and Dar Ku and Paw Wah from Burma.
Co-chairs Martin and Doyle along with Carmenza Ramirez and Monica Salazar Carmona, were guests for half an hour on the Jordan Levy Show on December 21.