Latest Gaza photography workshops puts disability rights in focus

Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) is delighted with the engagement and creativity shown by the photographers involved in a participatory photography project we are supporting in Gaza alongside our partner, the Nusirat Rehabilitation and Social Training Association.

In September, 15 Palestinians with disabilities met with MAP to learn about participatory photography and rose to the challenge of telling their own stories through photography to raise awareness locally and internationally of disability rights and the barriers to these rights in Gaza.

Over two weeks, the participants captured photos on their phones of places, people, and objects of importance to them as well as the difficulties they encounter in their daily lives. The group then came together with MAP to discuss their photos and the issues raised. These included high unemployment amongst Palestinians with disabilities, Israeli military offensives, inaccessible spaces in Gaza, the lack of assistive devices, discrimination towards people with disabilities and limited access to sports and entertainment. The workshop closed with participants identifying additional issues they wanted to capture and any photos they would retake over the following three weeks.

During discussions with the participants, MAP heard that the project has already supported the group to raise awareness of disability rights locally, with community members asking them about their photos and why they are taking them. BBC Arabic also interviewed three participants, Abdelkareem, Naji, and Seham, while they were collecting photographs. The report shows Abdelkareem photographing the inaccessibility of public spaces and public transport in Gaza; Naji highlighting the difficulty people with disabilities face to becoming athletes, with a lack of adaptive devices and limited opportunities to travel outside Gaza; and Seham documenting the barriers she encounters at the beach. Below you can watch the interview in Arabic and see a preview of some of the photos collected.

Last week MAP met with the group again and was greatly impressed by the participant’s photographs. At the workshop, the participants were again joined by journalists - this time from Al Jazeera – and another MAP partner in Gaza, the Social Developmental Forum (SDF), who advocate for the rights of people with disabilities through digital platforms. In small groups, SDF supported the participants to come up with powerful captions for their photos.

The group had the difficult task of selecting, from the many outstanding photos taken, 20 that best illustrate their concerns, and these will be exhibited in London and Gaza on 3 December to mark International Day for People with Disabilities. We look forward to sharing these next month and will be releasing information about the exhibitions over the next few weeks. In the meantime, you can read an interview with one of the participants, Majdeh, about the difficulties she faced growing up with a visual impairment in Gaza and how MAP’s partner supported her to take a leading role in advocating for the rights of people with disabilities.

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