Media Center"Be Unafraid" Traveling Photo Exhibit Brings Stories of Refugees to Chicago

Photo by Philip Laubner/CRS

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Megan Gilbert
Catholic Relief Services
[email protected]
(443) 825-3640


Portraits by Renowned Photographer Jeremy Cowart to Spark Critical Conversations
Be Unafraid Media Kit



As the Administration places a record low limit on refugee admissions to the U.S., a timely campaign explores the reasons why the issue of immigration and refugee asylum has transformed into such an explosive and polarized debate. As one of the states with the most number of resettled refugees, Illinois is at the heart of it.

“Be Unafraid,” a traveling photo exhibit coming to Chicago, addresses one of the main barriers to acceptance: fear. The campaign is aimed at sparking critical conversations in our communities between immigrants, refugees and Americans. Visitors can enjoy free coffee and meet Bnyad, an Iraqi refugee who participated in the Be Unafraid photo shoot. They can also explore a refugee camp through virtual reality glasses and enter to win an ethical trade gift basket.

In the last five years, Illinois has resettled close to 12,500 refugees, more than 38 other states. For the last two years the number of refugee resettlements has gone down in Illinois, while the number of refugees around the world continues to reach record levels.

Catholic Relief Services has partnered with award-winning photographer Jeremy Cowart to create the exhibit. After debuting in Baltimore this summer, it will make its way to Chicago on October 21. This will be the second of several stops of the “Be Unafraid” exhibit that features portraits and stories of refugees living in the U.S. and the people reluctant to welcome them.



Bnyad Sharef, a 21-year old Iraqi refugee who participated in the Be Unafraid shoot, will be at the exhibit and available for interviews.

Maggie Anderson, who also participated in the shoot, will also be available. Maggie was opposed to welcoming refugees until she met Bnyad, and since then the two have continued their conversations about refugees.



Sunday, October 21, 2018
Time: 1:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.



Pioneer Court between the Tribune Tower and the Chicago River
401 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611



The “Be Unafraid” traveling photo exhibit features portraits and stories - on the side of a box truck – that show the reactions of Americans and refugees during two days of discussing their fears and hopes for the future. “I think some Americans agree that [refugees] are invading our land, or they're coming and they're taking away certain rights or privileges that we should be getting,” said Sandra Jones, a medical assistant from Nashville. “[This experience] has opened my eyes a little better, and it opened my heart. Because I need to respect, love, treat everyone the same.”

Jeremy Cowart, who photographed the participants over two days in Nashville, TN, was named the “Most Influential Photographer on the Internet” by Huffington Post, Forbes and Yahoo in 2014. Cowart’s mission in life is to ‘explore the intersection of creativity and empathy.’ His latest endeavor is The Purpose Hotel, a global for-profit hotel chain designed to fuel the work of not-for-profit organizations. You can see more of Jeremy’s work at

The “Be Unafraid” exhibit is part of the global Share the Journey campaign, which Pope Francis launched in September 2017 as a way to draw attention to the plight of migrants and refugees around the world and encourage people to “welcome the stranger.” The U.S. portion of the campaign is supported by Catholic Relief Services, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Catholic Charities USA.


Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. For more information, please visit or and follow CRS on social media: Facebook, @CatholicRelief@CRSnewsYouTube, Instagram and Pinterest.

Tags: Refugees