Gaza Photo Contest

I have been asked by Mercy Corps to be a judge for a photo contest that is being held in Gaza.  I just received the most remarkable email from the coordinator.  I can’t imagine this life.

Since two days now, we’ve hand-carried photo-frames from Israel’s border, to
the Gaza strip; Walking through a long silent tunnel and crossing a high
cement wall, we got 10 frames in Gaza for the photo exhibition: 20 more to
go. As you watch these picture, please try to  live the real story of this
photo-exhibition : 100 Students take pictures in Gaza where quality printing
and framing is nearly impossible. Two weeks ago, In a petite flash-disc we
“smuggle” the whole pictures from Gaza to Jerusalem. In one week, we finally
have beautiful photo-prints, elegant thin silver frames. Next puzzle to
solve: how to get them back from Israel in Gaza. No mailing service and no
transportation of goods either.

I tremble from the fear that the Israeli Soldier who sits at the border will
not allow the frames to enter in Gaza with me. As I expect, she (the
soldier) is suspicious when she sees me with frames almost as tall as me-
hanging on both my arms. I look more like a décor for the frames.

“What do you have in your bags?” Asks the soldier.
“Picture frames”-I answer
“What kind of photos”- she says
“Hmmmm….They attempt to capture those moments that make us all recognize
our humanity in each-other”- I answer.

Pause.

“Open them , please”- says the soldier.

I  rip the seal off the frames who are compressed together and she gets a
quick peek.

Pause. Phone call. Hebrew. Than English again

-Dou can go.

Deep breath and absolutely happy I walk through. 10 frames are in Gaza now.
20 more to go between tomorrow and after tomorrow. Convinced that the frames
will be there, students are assigning a place for each frame on the walls of
the hall we rented for the exhibition. It starts on Saturday. I doubt we
will get them there on time and express frustration. One of them tells me
quietly : They will be here on Saturday.

I need to trust her. After all this photo-exhibition has a message:
“Recognizing Our Common Humanity”.

While we still struggle to get photos in Gaza, one by one,  -in a just an
hour-  we uploaded all of them online and will share them globally. Some,
may call this (f)act ironic, I call it “heroic”.

Thank you again for being part of this effort. Please view the pictures and
good luck in selecting the best of them. We will keep you updated of the
Photo-exhibition in Gaza.

http://www.globalcitizencorps.org/about.htm?page=about_contest_photo

We will feature this on the GCC homepage, in the newsletter and on our
social networking sites this week.

Images Seen in Christiane Amanpour’s CNN Coverage of Gaza

It is a very odd feeling to be sitting in a hotel in NYC and see my images in the background in Mercy Corps’ headquarters in Gaza.  I hesitate to feel good about such a thing when the country is in such peril, but I heard that the images brighten people’s lives there. So I am honored to be a teeny tiny part of effort in that area of our world.

Here is what the Mercy Corps’ video/media director had to say about the photos:

You should know that Christiane asked me where the photos were taken and she really liked them–I mean she totally commented on them and she was not exactly forthcoming in praise on much! So huge kudos to you!!!! Now the hard question.. the country director here (who is an amazing woman from Gaza who ran the office through the war while 4 months pregnant and kept the aid moving…) is in love with your photos. If I left them here she would be incredibly happy. What do you say?  GORGEOUS Pics.  And know you just made the whole Gaza team really happy!!

And to think that I have a hard time transporting these huge images just through town…and they look like they made the trip all the way to Gaza in great shape!  I hope they do brighten the walls during such difficult circumstances.

Here is a link to the CNN story

And many thanks to Pro Photo Supply for donating the printing of the images!

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