A quick Google search for Gaza will show you multiple images of rubble and raw sewage pouring into the Mediterranean. These are the images that often appear in our mind together with the things we once heard or read about the place. For example, that it is "the world's largest outdoor prison" or that it "will become unlivable". But is this the way Gazans themselves see their homeland?
The photo competition we launched among young and extremely talented Gazan photographers was meant to answer this question. At first, we were not sure, whether a photo competition was even a good idea. Would people, who are trying to live their lives though the economic crisis and the electricity crisis, unable to access basic goods and services, have time and energy to spare for such a trivial and unnecessary thing as a photo competition? It turned out they did. And we were taken aback by the results.
Young photographers, contemplating their immediate surroundings, showed that life in Gaza is much more than crises, fences, isolation and the enormous suffering they cause. It is a quiet moment where a little fisherman, who almost seems like a part of the seascape, is looking under the sea surface, probably wondering what the future will be like for him and his generation, in a place where the young face 66% unemployment rate. It is children holding candles in the darkness, not metaphorical, but very real, as people have to organize their lives around four hours of electricity per day. It is also immense joy and laughter when an improvised family band explores music making potential of aluminum cooking pots.
This diversity of moments of happiness, laughter, quiet contemplation show that people of Gaza did not just put their lives on hold waiting for long overdue political solutions. Every single day, they demonstrate incredible resilience in the face of the harsh realities that surround them.
A child from Deir Al-Balah refugee camp in Gaza, is fishing despite his young age.
Palestinian children light candles during a power outage as Gaza suffers from daily power cuts for an average of 20 hours a day.
An impoverished family from the north of Beit Lahia enjoys a light moment. The father is strumming a guitar, a young girl is dancing while the boys are playing music with simple household utensils.
A child with disability plays on the beach with his sister who shares his joy and happiness. Despite the disability and the difficult living situation in Gaza, there is always hope.
This photo shows the joy and fun that children can experience in the face of poverty. It relays a profound message: Happiness is in simplicity.
A child is doing his homework on the balcony of his makeshift house.
Children from Gaza sit in the trunk of an old car. They play music on a toy and enjoy the moment despite their poor living conditions.
Osama is a young man who lost his legs. He went through tough times for a while until he decided to play sports and challenge his disability. This required strong determination and an ironclad will.
Mourad Mourad, AKA “doctor clown” entertains child patients in the kidney dialysis section in a local hospital in Gaza.
Mohammad Abu Kameel, 29, launched a campaign called “We Are All One” with an aim to raise awareness around the disabled, their rights, obligations and integration in the society. He gave more than 20,000 presentations to organizations and schools all over Gaza.
Two children, from the town of Beit Hanoun, north of Gaza, play with the frame of a destroyed television device.
On a hot summer day, and despite continued power outages, parents bake fresh bread for their children to fulfil their basic needs.
Marah and Hadeel lost their father and younger brother during the recent conflict in Gaza. They currently live in a caravan that lacks even the minimal living needs. One of them is seen with a smile on her face, while the other seems to display doubt.
Ibrahim lost his legs during the recent conflict in the Gaza Strip. However, he tries to remain hopeful. His six-year-old daughter pushes him on his wheel chair as they spend time together. He does some basic construction work despite his disability.
A group of young men performing parkour stunts at the eastern borders of Khan Younis. Due to the scarcity of playing areas and limited resources, they are forced to practice their sport in the empty areas near the borders.
A Palestinian woman helps her husband during the wheat harvest. She carries her baby in one hand and works with the other.
A child is being entertained by a clown during a recreational activity organized for children with cancer in Khan Younis.
Children from Gaza are preparing to leave for a sea tour on their boat.
Children playing infront of their house seeking joy from the things around them. These kids lack toys and play grounds in light of the poor living conditions in Gaza.
A Palestinian girl plays with her doll during the power outage. Gaza suffers from power cuts reaching up to 20 hours a day.
Raees is a deaf boy who doesn’t stop smiling despite his disability. He plays with a wheel and a stick with his brother, in east of Jabalia, near the borders, where they reside in tents.
A small boy is peeking out of the window before sunset during the power outage in his neighbourhood.