Life Photo Essay

Even if they have taken up new nationalities, are living well and have happy lives elsewhere, if someone said they could go back to Palestine they would drop everything and go.They will never forget who they are and where they come from.”“There were very few opportunities for Palestinians to work in this country [Lebanon].

We didn’t have electricity, the toilets were a long walk away and communal.

We began to disperse across numerous refugee camps in Lebanon.

The fighting started in Palestine and they told my family to leave for a week and then we’d be able to come back when it dies down.

Obviously I was only a few months old, wrapped up in a blanket.

Seventy-year-old Mariam Mahmoud – affectionately known as Um Zahir – was born in the village of Safsaaf, northwest of Safad.“I was born in 1948, the year of the Nakba.

My mum had lots of kids, we were the typical big Palestinian family.It is now the most overpopulated camp near Lebanese capital Beirut, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which is responsible for Palestinian refugees.Burj El-Barajneh has seven schools, one health centre and more than 17,945 registered refugees living in extremely difficult conditions.But of course we are not happy living in these conditions.Our life is unstable, we are not settled here, even after all this time; it’s not like living in your own home.we remember everything.”Sitting in a traditional Palestinian seating area, Mariam talks to MEMO about her love for her homeland:“I am ready to walk back to my home in Palestine, if I could.Even if my home is no longer there, I would live on nothing but the soil on the ground.Because of how many kids my mum had, when we got to the border of Palestine and Lebanon, my mum had to leave me under an olive tree to take some of her kids and come back for me.”So my mum came back for me and we entered Lebanon.It was only supposed to be a week and my family found it so hard.At the very least we would go back with our dignity.Yes, our children have been educated and are living in this country [Lebanon] and abroad, but does that mean that they will forget their Palestinian identity?

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