The Voice of Witness team is excited to introduce three new oral history projects incubating in the VOW Story Lab! From Puerto Rico, to San Francisco and Appalachia, the inspiring people behind these projects are determined to share the untold stories of their communities and change the mainstream narrative around some of our most pressing injustices.

Support from our community enables us to bring these projects to life and give a platform to voices that need to be heard. Below, read more about these projects and how you can support them with a gift to the VOW Story Fund.

New oral history projects: Proyecto Santuario

Sanctuary cities are in the crosshairs of anti-immigrant activists and politicians, framed as lawless safe havens for criminals. This narrative erases the complex history of sanctuary status, and excludes from public debate the perspectives and experiences of immigrants and refugees most impacted by the “sanctuary city” debate.

Proyecto Santuario is a participatory, community-led project that will explore the history of San Francisco as a “sanctuary city” through the voices of the city’s Central American immigrants and refugees.

New oral history projects: Mi Maria

On September 20, 2017, Hurricane María battered Puerto Rico for over twenty-two hours. The real catastrophe, however, seems to be the ways in which the people of Puerto Rico have been ignored in its aftermath.

Since the hurricane, the abject lack of U.S. government support has left many on the island without electricity, clean drinking water, food, and medical care. Nine months later, the island remains shattered.

Mi María will bring together stories of survival and community with an interrogation of the politics of citizenry rooted in the history of Puerto Rico and the United States, and exemplified by the lack of support offered in the aftermath of this disaster.

New oral history projects: Resettled

Refugee stories do not end once they’ve reached a host country. In fact, that is often just the beginning of their journey.

Resettled will tell the untold stories of displacement, trauma, and community integration in an area not known for its resettlement efforts: Rural Appalachia.

Between xenophbic rhetoric, decreasing funds for resettlement, and a continued focus on rural Appalachia as a place of poverty and strife, understanding these stories is critically important. This project will place the “refugee narrative” alongside the “Appalachian narrative” to provide a greater understanding of the benefits and challenges of welcoming new neighbors in the region.


You can help bring these projects to life with a gift to the VOW Story Fund. Your support will:

  • Allow project leads to travel for interviews and build face-to-face trust with narrators
  • Provide oral history training to community members so they can participate in the storytelling process
  • Bring these crucial stories to classrooms, bookstores, and communities across the country