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Smile Bringing Miles Of Hope To All!

At a time when the world is going through various crises, Turkish photographer Mehmet Aslan has sent a ray of hope to the Global Community through a picture clicked by him. The image is not only about Syria, but also about the crisis-ridden world of date. The image of a Syrian refugee, who lost his leg in a bombing, holding up his son born without limbs, helped Aslan win Photo of the Year award at the Annual Siena International Photo Awards 2021 on October 23. He clicked the photo, titled ‘Hardship of Life’, in the Turkish Province of Hatay.

Aslan’s photo shows a father, Munzir, who lost his right leg due to a bombing incident in the northwestern Syrian city of Idlib, holding his son, Mustafa. After winning the award, Aslan said that Mustafa was born with a rare congenital disorder, called Tetra-Amelia. This disorder is characterised by the absence of all four limbs without limbs, along with malformations in other areas of the body, such as the face, skull, reproductive organs, anus, lungs and pelvis, as well. As per the Siena International Photo Awards website, Mustafa’s congenital disorder was “caused by the medications his mother Zeynep had to take after being sickened by nerve gas released during the war in Syria”. In the photo, Munzir is seen resting his limb on a crutch as his son smiles down at him. Aslan stressed that he first met the family in southern Turkey, and clicked the photo of the father-son duo after spending time with them in mid-2021.

Aslan further said that Munzir had lost his right leg in a blast, while shopping in a market in Syria. His wife, who was pregnant at that time, inhaled the nerve gas just before Mustafa was born. After Mustafa’s birth, the family left their home in Idlib, as the city had become a hotbed of violence. It may be noted that Idlib Governorate was the last province of the rebel and jihadist groups that was attacked by the Government and Allied Forces.

Mehmet Aslan

Upon their arrival in neighbouring Turkey, the Munzir family settled in Hatay, a southern Turkish Province on the Mediterranean coast, bordered by Syria to the south and the east. Currently, the family is living in a shop! Since their arrival in Turkey, Munzir and Zeynep have been seeking prosthetics for their son. The Washington Post quoted Zeynep as saying: “The picture has reached the world… We’ve tried for years to get our voices heard by anyone who would listen, to help with his treatment. We’d give anything to give him a better life.” Meanwhile, the Washington Bureau Chief for Anadolu Agency, Hakan Copur, wrote on Twitter: “Just one picture tells everything about what happened in #Syria.

Aslan expressed hope that Hardship of Life would help ease backlash against refugees in his country. He told the Press: “We wanted to bring attention to this.” According to Aslan, he clicked the photo in an attempt to highlight the family’s quest for prosthetics for Mustafa, as well as to help ease the backlash against refugees in Turkey. He believes that the photo would also help the Global Community learn how to find happiness even in crisis periods.

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