One day you decided to leave. Without a word, you left to go over there and time froze.
We are not angry at you because for us, it was not your choice.
With all our love always,
We all miss you.
Saliha will never forget that day when she entered her nineteen year old son’s bedroom to find it empty. except for the djellaba, crumpled and half hidden under his bed. He had promised to wear it to the wedding he invented as pretext for traveling first to Turkey and then into Syria to join the ranks of some 6,500 Europeans designated as foreign fighters in Syria.
Belgium has one of the highest numbers of western recruits currently fighting for ISIL in Syria. Youth unemployment in Belgium is currently about 16.7 percent. About a quarter of unemployed people in the country are the children of immigrants, according to government statistics. A February survey found that 2 in 3 temp agencies discriminate against immigrants.
This is the story about three mothers from Belgium and their journey to heal themselves following the elopement of their sons.
This work is a deep investigation into the emotional and psychological landscape of the women’s longing for their departed son.
It seeks to understand their trauma, their grief and ultimately, how they come to terms with such a loss. In some cases their separation is geographical, with sporadic electronic contact with their son; for others, it is the unrelenting pain of grief for a child whose death is difficult to explain, understand or mourning families are able to secure more food in the face of increasingly dry conditions.
In 2015 this work was highly commended by the judges of the Firecracker Photographic Grant.