Doctors Without Borders Brings Portlanders Closer to Refugee Crisis With Interactive Exhibition

Forced From Home free, outdoor exhibition at Pioneer Courthouse Square educates visitors on realities of displacement

PORTLAND, OR, OCTOBER 18, 2017 – Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the international medical humanitarian organization, brings its exhibition designed to raise awareness about the plight of the more than 65 million refugees and internally displaced people to Portland this week. From October 16-22, Forced From Home will share the individual stories of the world’s displaced populations, and help visitors better understand the medical humanitarian consequences of the global refugee crisis.

Forced From Home is currently touring the Western U.S. It has already been in Boulder, Salt Lake City, and Seattle, and welcomed more than 10,000 visitors. Visitors gain a deeper understanding of people who’ve been forced to flee from their homes by participating in an hour-long tour led by MSF aid workers. All tour guides for the exhibition have worked in refugee and internally displaced settings all over the world.

While delivering emergency medical care worldwide, MSF sees firsthand the horrific conditions that drive people to risk their lives for the chance of a safer future. Forced From Home gives visitors a sense of the challenges displaced people encounter. For example, they will learn what it’s like to be squeezed onto an overcrowded rubber raft lost at sea, or to not have enough water for drinking or washing. They will also be confronted with the near impossible choices people must make when fleeing at a moment’s notice. 

“MSF is seeing displaced individuals and families at unprecedented numbers. We provide care throughout their dangerous journeys—on rescue boats, in refugee camps, and in health centers,” said Jason Cone, MSF-USA executive director. “Forced From Home is an opportunity to bring our patients’ stories to the U.S. public, to humanize the refugee crisis, and to challenge political leaders at all levels of government to dramatically increase assistance and protections for refugees and asylum seekers.”

MSF’s medical care and mental health support alone are not enough to counter the brutal policies that severely limit access to assistance for displaced people. Forced From Home is a key aspect of MSF’s efforts to advocate for concrete policy changes to meet the urgent needs of displaced people. MSF calls upon world leaders to honor their commitments under existing international refugee and human rights conventions. The exhibition discusses the harm caused when governments close borders, return people to places where they can face death or persecution, or leave them trapped in war zones and other situations of extreme danger.

At Forced From Home, visitors navigate the 10,000-square-foot exhibition space and consider the inconceivable challenges faced by refugees and internally displaced people. The immersive experience also incorporates virtual reality and 360-degree videos that take participants to Iraq, Lebanon, Mexico, Tanzania, and South Sudan – areas where large groups of displaced people currently reside.

“I left Iraq in 2006 not knowing what will happen to me next, just like millions of refugees. I came to America in 2007, and started working with refugees as a mental health professional and community organizer,” said Dr. Baher Butti, mental health clinician at Catholic Charities in Portland and member of the New Portlanders Policy Commission. “Portland promotes inclusivity, which means that we support and embrace our neighbors. Those resettled in our city contribute with their expertise, values, investments, and productivity.”

Forced From Home will be in Portland through October 22. Further information on the exhibition and related events can be found at For tour updates, follow @ForcedFromHome on Twitter or Instagram.

Upcoming tour dates and cities:

  • October 16-22: Pioneer Courthouse Square – Portland, OR
  • October 30-November 5: Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center – Oakland, CA
  • November 13-19: Santa Monica Pier – Santa Monica, CA

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international, independent, medical humanitarian organization that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural disasters, and exclusion from health care. MSF offers assistance to people based on need, irrespective of race, religion, gender, or political affiliation.