With photos of her son and grandchildren who were killed in the recent war. The two boys went out with a 20 shekel note to buy milk for the family: they were hit by a bomb in Shajaya, both died, one with the note in his hand.
Children in the Shajaya neighbourhood Gaza, posing at the window of their house, partially destroyed by the Israeli army, rendered unsafe for habitation.
Meet Mohamed, one of the countless people I met in my week in Gaza who have had their houses destroyed. Mohamed had an incredibly calm demeanour and acceptance of the situation, citing Allah as his strength. He described how his family fled while the bombs were dropping to a place of safety. Luckily his family and children escaped unharmed, they are now living in temporary accommodation.
I learnt a new word in Arabic this week, damma, “destroyed”. It was depressingly frequent. Somehow editing the pictures and reflecting on the week is more depressing than when I was there working from sunrise to sunset and busy in the mechanics of shooting. Zooming into various pics to check the focus and looking into the eyes of some of those whom I photographed… depressing for me, let alone the situation they face with winter coming.
Despite all this, I felt 100% safe in Gaza, despite having felt like I had to make ‘good bye’ calls before I went (!!) just in case something happened. The people I met are kind calm and amazing, they are peace-seeking in the most extraordinarily awful dire circumstances. The recent war is just one issue, the water is a metaphorical ticking health bomb with 90% unfit to drink yet the population drinks it as most have no choice.
The day started off photographing for The ClementJames Centre in West London, a charity that supports young local people achieve their potential. We all met in the church attached to the community centre with the smell of jerk chicken and frankincense, the sound of hymns inside and steel drum bands outside, complete with a congregation of kids dressed as aliens, before joining the fabulous madness of the largest street party in Europe.
Below is the ClementJames float, which came first in the category “Best Small Band”. For more info on the ClementJames centre, click here.