goodbye nadia

how do you mourn someone when you’re not sure she’s dead?

in november 2005 i became acquainted with nadia abu-amar, one of the wonderful young ladies at a shelter for women in jerusalem, as part of a project titled in spite of!

nadia was camera shy, more than the other girls. even after months of shooting she would still give me her shy smile when she noticed the lens in her direction. i had to sneak up on her to capture her true spirit. and what a strong spirit! she was tough, determined, independant, she new exactly what what she wanted and she went out to get it! her very short life heaped with intense experiences molded and matured her character to a level you or i would have achieved only many years later.

nadia was hiding out at the shelter from her family. hiding out for fear of continued abuse, sexual and other, and for fear of retribution, for daring to speak her thoughts and her desires, for daring not to marry the man her father had ‘sold’ her to. nadia’s cultural arab background dictates a death sentance as a reward for her independent character.

a mother, a father, brothers – a new definition to “family”.

“i sat and spoke to the ocean. it doesn’t answer but it hears”

“yes, i have overcome, but sometimes i am still terrified”

in november 2007 nadia went to visit her sister in haifa. on her way back to the shelter in jerusalem nadia disappeared. months of a police investigation did not turn up a body, only a proud and arrogant brother’s declaration “i slaughtered her. she deserved to die!” criminal charges have been filed against three brothers and an uncle and have yet to be concluded in court.

for months nadia’s room at the shelter remained just as she had left it; her clothes in the closet, her articles on the dresser and her works of art on the wall above her bed – a mixture of hope and disbelief. but finally, her friends deserve to say goodbye and mourn. sunday, june 15th, a memorial service will be held for nadia, a final farewell, at the hostel.




Filed under abduction, art, death, distress, documentary, family, image, images, in spite of, israel, Jerusalem, kidnapped, photo, photographer, photography, photojournalism, photos, shelter, social welfare, tragedy, victim, violence, woman

4 responses to “goodbye nadia

  1. Nir,

    Thank you for sharing this remarkable young woman’s life with the rest of the world…

    On 15 June, the day of her memorial, I will pause in a moment of silence in rememberance of her – not to grieve, but to celebrate her life.

  2. nir


    What a beautiful thing to say!
    Thank you!

  3. Nir: thanks for sending this to me. I am reproducing it today to mark the memorial service. My thoughts are with you and Nadia’s friends, her true family.

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