Image: Wissam Nassar for Action Against Hunger
Portraits of women in Gaza: Eman's Story
"At the family studio, we often get visits from women who saw me taking pictures at weddings and who would like to become trained. I’m currently training some women for free."
May 24 2017
June marks 50 years of the occupation of the Palestinian Territory and 10 years of the blockade of the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea. This month, meet some of the women who have been affected by the blockade. All of them are single heads of households. All of them lost their businesses during the 2014 hostilities in Gaza. Some of them lost their husbands, children and sometimes their grandchildren in the last war.
I climb out of the car in a bustling street in Rafah where a smiling girl motions me to come in. The broken windows now covered with plastic sheet remind me that even this supposedly safe area has been affected by the war. "We currently cannot afford to repair the house," says Eman as she notices me looking at the building.
Eman is a mother of two with a passion for photography and videography. "We had a photography studio in the family. I received my first assignment when I was 14 years old. I was in charge of taking pictures at a wedding party." Eman explains how little she used to gain before owning her own camera. "I used to pay 80 percent of my profit as camera rental fee, which left me with about 50 NIS (€12) per assignment." Through Action Against Hunger’s assistance, Eman bought her own camera and now earns approximately five to six times more than she made before.
Eman’s husband, unable to work for medical reasons, is very proud of her. However, it remains challenging for Eman to be the sole breadwinner of the family.
"My oldest daughter has suffered from chronic ear problems since she was born and my husband also needs continuous medical care. I spend the cash assistance of the Ministry of Social Affairs, 252 NIS (60€) per month, entirely on medication."
When talking to Eman, one can easily sense her care in spending money. Memories of the last war still linger. "We could barely pay our bills. We could not afford cooking gas and I was using pieces of cloth as diapers. I cut down on my own meals to keep my daughters and husband well fed."
It is very uncommon to be a female photographer in Gaza, which is why Eman piques the curiosity of many other women in her area.
"At the family studio, we often get visits from women who saw me taking pictures at weddings and who would like to become trained. I’m currently training some women for free." I ask Eman why she does not include that on her business card and I advise her to make a photo album with samples of her work. "That is exactly why I will buy a laptop soon, Insh’allah!"