The 8th International Photography Festival, PHOTO IS:RAEL, was arranged differently during COVID restrictions in 2020.
A big very long wall, with wonderful and meaningful photographs, was erected around a construction site in the Round Square Kikar Hamedina, in Tel Aviv.
I had the honor to be one of the 20 winners of the Open Call Transformation and to share the story of Sahman Alchoush at the main exhibition.
In my work, I chose also to document children in their private room. The thought of documenting a child in a hospital room, in a different situation than usual, to direct my lens and heart at the disease and to allow the pain to be present, felt so powerful for me and it motivated me to action.
I had the privilege to meet "The Road to Recovery", a non-profit Israeli organization that helps transport Palestinian patients, especially children, from the checkpoints to the hospitals in Israel.
As I see it, their brave and humble activity, leads with small steps and great humanity, to a significant social change that brings hearts together, and conveys a message of the absence of borders, separation, and difference.
"The Road to Recovery" assisted me in accompanying and documenting 3 year-old Sahman Alchoush, a native of Chalchul in Hebron, who was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma at the age of two .I've met Sahman and his family, in the last weeks of his life, during which Sahman stayed at the Hospice in "Tel Hashomer" Hospital in Israel.
My emotional journey with his family, also gave rise to an internal change in my personal creative process, in which I understood the strength of this documentation and its meaning for the other, and for me as well.
I began to ask for myself more absorbed, brave and honest stories to document and share the world with.
Sahman passed away on july 11th, 2019 and was the eldest son of his parents Jaffar and Tasneem and big brother to little Bissan.
He loved animals and was a chubby toddler; he liked to romp on the sofa with dad Jaffar, and dress in the highest fashion. Touching his parent's eyelids with his little fingers, reassured him greatly during the difficult moments of pain.
Sahman's parents and I are friends until this day. Jaffar once said that I had long since become a family member, and thanks to our acquaintance, they had the privilege of preserving memories, sharing the pain of their son's illness and softening the difficulty of being alone in Israel, in such painful moments.
At December 2020, another son was born to them, Isaac. And I couldn’t be more happier for them.
During 2021 PHOTO IS:RAEL festival traveled Israel and exhibited at "Beit Lohamey Hagetaot Museum" and to the community center in the southern city Rahat, and also the city Kfar Yona. I had the hounor to share Sahman's story once again and to continue commemorate his memory.