The Long Journey of Palestinian Refugee Women

Palestine / Jordan 2013
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Father and daughter at the UNRWA community centre. Returning to the community centre in Amman New Camp, I met the eyes of a father with a protective arm around his daughter. I immediately wanted to immortalize this moment of tenderness and also, perhaps, of quiet sorrow. (Amman New Camp – Amman – Jordan)
Palestinian woman arriving at the UNRWA justice centre for legal aid. The formal dress of this woman on the stairs of the “Justice Centre“ reflects the importance she attributes to the workshop on domestic violence in which she come to participate. (Amman – Jordan)
Discussion between nurses at the UNRWA health centre. (Amman New Camp – Amman – Jordan)
Dream of beauty at the beauty centre in Al-Zahara. This incongruous medley culture represented by the decency three women, sitting in the foreground and flipping capillary staining catalogs, contrasts with the flashy aspect of advertising hung on the wall behind them. This contrast creates an image that leads to the reflection. (Al-Zahara - Gaza Strip - Palestine)
Knowledge transfer at the Arroub camp boys' school. At the boys' school of Arroub camp, I saw this young teacher exercising her work with passion. The piercing light and her insistent gaze accentuates all the conviction she puts into her work. (Arroub Camp - West Bank - Palestine)
Caring mother (Aida Camp - Bethlehem - West Bank - Palestine)
After a community performance organized by UNRWA on gender, I met these three young Palestinian girls who had performed a rap song. Here, they proudly pose in front of the Hussein Cultural Centre in Amman. (Amman – Jordan
Palestinian woman arriving at the UNRWA justice centre for legal aid. (Amman – Jordan)
At the health centre in Amman New Camp, the number of consultations per day is very high, and caring for newborns is a full-time job. Here, I took a portrait of one of the nurses at work in the centre. (Amman New Camp – Amman – Jordan)
During the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence campaign, numerous UNRWA schools organized workshops and awareness-raising activities. In Arroub camp, a young girl had just finished a writing exercise. I asked her if I could take a picture and she accepted, looking into the camera with an intense gaze, filled with hope. (Arroub Camp - West Bank - Palestine) (Arroub Camp - West Bank - Palestine)
This is a moving portrait of two children studying together at a school in Gaza’s Beach Camp. I wanted to capture this moment which, in my view, beautifully portrays gender equality. (Beach Camp – Gaza Strip – Palestine)
In a small improvised nursery in Jabalia camp, this young woman cares for children during the day while their parents are away. Looking ahead and wrapping a protective arm around this child, she embodies softness and serenity. (Jabalia Camp – Gaza Strip – Palestine)
In this classroom in Jabalia camp, the circular composition of the seating and the teacher’s focused look as she gives a reading lesson to three children capture a beautiful moment of tenderness. (Jabalia Camp – Gaza Strip – Palestine)
Berta Khattab, with the help of the UNRWA microfinance programme, managed to open her own beauty salon in al-Zahara, in the Gaza Strip. Here, she proudly poses in front of her salon, pleased to welcome clients. (Al-Zahara - Gaza Strip - Palestine)
Young Palestinian rappers (Amman – Jordan

The Long Journey of Palestinian Refugee Women

Where: Palestine / Jordan

When: 2013

In 2013, I produced a documentary in the Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan, West Bank and the Gaza Strip in partnership with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). The project ended with an exhibition at the French Institute in Amman named "The Long Journey of the Palestinian Refugee Women" during the "International Image Festival of Amman". The exhibition took place during the International Women's Day 2014 and was also presented in various refugee camps in the Gaza Strip.

Those photographs represent with dignity the lives of Palestinian refugee women and testify not only about their strength and courage, but also about the richness and resilience of their community. Facing displacement, violence, poverty and denial of basic rights since they were forced to leave their homes in 1948, women have been guardians of Palestinian collective memory and communal identity. Teachers, doctors, engineers, daughters, sisters, wifes and mothers have through their songs, their traditions, their skills and talents kept alive the collective memory of their refugee communities.

This exhibition that celebrated the contribution of Palestinian women to a rich culture that flourished despite the enormous obstacles encountered throughout their refugee journey should also reflect on the work which remains to be done. Even if UNRWA supports Palestinian refugee women through education and training, healthcare, community development and microfinance they still need the international community support for the specific needs of each refugee woman and girl ensuring their access to basic services and encourage their pursuit of new and greater opportunities.

I hope that these images show that although the Palestinian refugee women have retained pain in their life stories, they also continued to have hope and determination to build a healthy and productive future for the Palestinian people.