Ashraf Amra was on his way to the Great March of Return when it happened. His camera dropped on concrete while changing lenses. His heart stopped. He had his whole life invested in that camera.
Amra is a 33-year-old photographer from Gaza. Photography is not just his passion, it is his only source of income. It pushes him to go to the most dangerous places in Gaza every day, hoping to sell pictures to bring food to his family’s table. His five children depend on it. According to the UN, 68% of the Gazan households are food insecure.
“My children were very upset when I told them my camera broke,” Ashraf said, explaining that even at a young age, they understood how important their father’s camera was.
“When I stayed home for a couple of days, they asked me why I did not go out to work. It was difficult,” Amra added.
Amra has been working as a journalist since the age of 17. He started as a radio reporter, but soon discovered his special interest in photography. It became his passion. One that has yielded him several awards.
No need to say that Amra’s job has its risks. Amra was shot twice while on the job. Once in 2015, while covering the funeral of a 27-year-old Palestinian killed by an Israeli sniper during a protest near the separation fence. The second time by an Israeli bullet during the Great March of Return, a series of events in which Palestinians have gathered near the separation fence to peacefully protest their enforced exile and besiegement.
When Amra’s camera dropped six weeks ago, it meant a great financial tragedy. He had bought it with his little savings and money borrowed from a friend. The brand new zoom lens had allowed him to keep safe distance while photographing dangerous situations. The material was worth approximately $4,200.
In Gaza, poverty-stricken due to Israel’s 12-year-long blockade, there are virtually no jobs. Documenting their own misery has become an important source of income for the population of Gaza, even while it is often flooded by foreign press. Amra emphasised the need to support local journalism.
“I have been working as a photographer for 16 years,” Amra said. “Three wars… I have seen horrible things. But I want to continue to do it. Photography means everything.”
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