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Andrea Bruce December 12, 2008

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Iraq.
Tags: ,

Dinner in Ramadi, Iraq, 2008

Andrea Bruce (b.1973, American) an alumna of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After shooting as a staff photographer for The Concord Monitor and The St. Petersburg Times, she joined the staff of The Washington Post where she began to chronicle the world’s most troubled areas. She has won awards from the National Pictures of the Year competition, the White House News Photographers Association (where she has been named Photographer of the Year three times), and the John Faber award from the Overseas Press Club in New York. Andrea is currently based in Baghdad. The above photo is from her series called Unseen Iraq published in The Washington Post every week.

About the Photograph:

Sheiks in traditional robes and keffiyehs line the drawn-curtained room on regal chairs and floor cushions. Their deeply lined faces serious, they discuss problems that have come up in their regions of Ramadi, agreeing with slight, controlled nods as they massage prayer beads with flicks of their thumbs. At the end of the long, narrow room, next to a fluorescent light tube on the wall, a door opens onto the kitchen. There, women move, almost run, between a stove behind the house and the furniture-bare room, open to the summer light and heat. Towering reeds, swaying with the breeze, block the view of the Euphrates River. Children are everywhere, crying, playing with cellphones, teasing, testing their strength, while their mothers sit around a large metal bowl on the floor, slicing okra, onions and potatoes.

Um Jasim, the family matriarch, sits against a wall on the only chair. Recently released from a hospital after suffering a minor stroke, she is the reason her children and cousins are here, giggling and reminiscing, oblivious to the politics in the next room. Henna dots their arms, remnants of last night’s party.

Yesterday, Sousan Abdul Jabar, the youngest daughter, traveled with her 16-month-old daughter, Mariam, from Kirkuk, her husband’s home, to her home town of Ramadi. It was her first time back in two years. She is pregnant again, another reason to celebrate.

“We used to have no need to worry,” says Sousan about the time just after 2003 when it was safe to travel on the roads between Kirkuk and Ramadi. Then, she says, checkpoints became dangerous. “Then we could only call. Then we were scared of the street.”

But the roads are safer now. “I’m just happy because I’m between my family and relatives,” Sousan says. She comforts Mariam, encourages her to share, play games, chase. Her daughter is shy around her new found cousins. The toddlers run, fall and laugh, slapping the floor with untrained feet.

Dinner will be a stew of vegetables and lamb with rice. Everyone helps. The mood is warm. Inviting. A family.


1. Chris - January 2, 2009

Tender but real – beautiful image.

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