_ Arabic exclamation used to express respect, appreciation, praise or gratitude, for a person or an event.
“The book Mashallah is a tribute to women who both teach and inspire me. It is a dip into their lives, routines, challenges, but above all into their strength, resilience and hope.” Gabriela Vivacqua
I witness the moment when thousands of women and children arrive seeking shelter and humanitarian aid due to conflicts in their village. Homeless, without food and water, everything was left behind.
During their childhood, domestic work, with disproportionate division of tasks such as collecting water, firewood and food preparation are part of their routine.
Only married women can use henna on their feet and hands. Child marriage is the reality of many girls in Somalia.
“School meals” are an incentive to keep girls in school. Sometimes it’s the only meal of the day.
In many communities it is believed that there is no need to educate women. Child marriage and child pregnancy are common. Marriage is seen, in many cases, as a solution to cut family expenses or to obtain financial advantages through the dowry.
Mary breastfeeds her twins inside her family house in Juba, South Sudan. “When I don’t have anything to eat they also get hungry because my milk doesn’t flow as it should.”
When I look at this scene, the first thing that comes to mind is strength. This is Cecilia, one of the strong women I had the opportunity to meet at South Sudan. Like many in their community, she was not able to complete her education, marrying when she was only 15.
She is a mother of five and is raising them on her own. Her husband married a second time and he is now busy taking care of his new family. When I ask her how she feels breastfeeding her son, she answers: “I feel happy because I know he will be healthy, strong and able to survive.”
This image represents in an intimate way the reality that goes beyond her home, country and continent. This is the reality of many women around the world.
Viola James lives in what she calls a “fortress”. It has no windows, no light and it is very hot.. “I built the house this way to protect my children. I am a woman living alone with children. This place is not safe.”