Thursday, 2 July 2009

Asim Rafiqui: Portraits of Survival

Photo © Asim Rafiqui/Courtesy VQR -All Rights Reserved

I've written a number of posts on Asim Rafiqui's work on the pages of The Travel Photographer, not only because he's an excellent photographer and photojournalist but because he's a thinker, an intellectual as well as a superlative photographer.

Asim is based in Stockholm, Sweden, and started his career in 2003 by focusing on stories from Afghanistan and Pakistan while pursuing personal projects on issues related to the aftermath of conflict. He has since produced stories from Iraqi Kurdistan, Haiti, Israel, and the tribal areas of Pakistan. He was awarded the 2009 Aftermath Grant for his project The Idea of India. He contributes regularly to National Geographic (France), Stern (Germany), Newsweek, and Time (Asia).

His most recent work is published in The Virginia Quarterly Review, and is titled Portraits of Survival. I urge you all to read his eloquent writing and view his compassionate imagery on the tragedy in Gaza, where he traveled with support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

The one quote that moved me most (because I can hear it uttered in Arabic) in the article is this:

“Sons are the light of their mother’s eyes,” she said. “My eyes have lost their light.”

She kept dialing a number in Egypt. Relatives and neighbors who filled the front compound of her home kept handing her their mobiles in the hope that one of them would connect to the Egyptian hospital where Nabila Jadali’s sons had been sent for treatment.

Her son, Mohamad Jadali, had not survived the rain of shells that landed on her home. Two other sons were in an intensive care unit in Egypt, evacuated across the Rafah border, and she was unable to locate them. She would later learn that Abdil Hadi had been blinded and Khalil had lost his legs in the attack.

In my view, Asim is one the few remaining courageous photojournalists who remain wedded to the essence and ethics of their profession. For this, he deserves immense praise...what more is there to say?