Category: Photography

Photostory | Türkiye: “Homes have turned into a place of fear, a place that kills”

Publication for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) – April 2023

© Mariana Abdalla/MSF

In February, massive earthquakes struck the south of Türkiye and north-western Syria.

In Türkiye, the earthquakes have directly impacted more than 9 million people in eleven provinces in the southern part of the country, hosting 16 percent of the country’s people. As of early April, more than 50,300 people have died, more than 3 million have been displaced and more than 2 million have been living in formal and informal settlements across earthquake affected areas.

Now, more than two months after the first earthquakes, people are having to grapple with the post-traumatic stress of these events. Aftershocks are still occurring every day. According to the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD), over 25,000 aftershocks have occurred since the February 6 earthquakes, 47 of them higher than magnitude 5 on the Richter scale. In addition, heavy rains have also led to flooding in some areas.

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is supporting local non-profit organisations in Türkiye conducting psychosocial activities in affected areas, including Adıyaman and Malatya provinces.Here, people in these areas share their stories and feelings, and psychologists from MSF supported organisations highlight the growing mental health needs and the psychological impact of the disaster.”

“We still can’t think clearly.”

Abdurrahman Can is the leader of Başpınar (Küllüm) village in Adıyaman.

Here, people in these areas share their stories and feelings, and a psychologist from an MSF supported organisation highlights the growing mental health needs and the psychological impact of the disaster.

“I lost my daughter-in-law and my grandchild. I kept my grandchild’s body in the car for two days until we could finally find his mother’s body and bury them both. We didn’t even get a shroud. We wrapped them with a blanket. The hospitals were full of dead bodies.

I have four children, two girls and two boys. One of them lost his wife and child. Another one was able to get his child out of the rubble alive. All their houses are gone, there is nothing left. They couldn’t get anything out.

We paid a price, we lost lives, we lost a lot of property.During the first days we were sleeping in our cars. Now we are staying in tents; we cannot go inside [our house].

There is a lot of fear. There are aftershocks a couple of times a day, every day. We still can’t even think clearly. We lost our sleeping patterns. We are starting to have family issues.

We need material and moral support. Everyone is stressed, but we are trying to recover. We are here as a family, trying to hold on to life. Now, at least we know that someone is listening to us.”

“It will take a long time to repair this.”

Nazlı Sinem Koytak is a psychologist for İmece İnisiyatifi, a local NGO supported by MSF, in Adıyaman.

“Usually, after a life-threatening event has passed, people are comforted, and we expect their fear to lessen as time goes by.

Unfortunately, though, since aftershocks continue to happen, we are seeing that people’s fears are very much alive and not decreasing. People are physically and mentally tired.

The majority of people we talked to shared that they are too scared to enter their homes. They do not feel safe inside. Even if they must go inside during the day, they try to leave as fast as they can and spend the night in tents. This is true even for people who have their houses only slightly damaged.”

“In one of the villages, the participants said their houses ‘had now turned into monsters’. People used to take refuge in their homes, but now homes have turned into a place of fear, a place that kills them.

It will take a long time to repair this.

Therefore, in our work, we prioritise a number of activities that restore people’s trust in the family, especially between parents, children and adolescents.”

“Earthquakes on the one hand and rain on the other.”

Semra Karaca, Sultan Kodaş, Hüseyin Kodaş and Şengül Kodaş (from left to right) live together as a family in Ören village, on the outskirts of Malatya.

“There are earthquakes on the one hand and rain on the other. We don’t know what will happen in the future. I’m here with my wife, my siblings, my children and my mother.

Our belongings are drowned in water because of the flood, we can’t find anything to wear, the neighbour brought us these clothes for now. We were staying in a tent, but the tent got flooded too.

We are now trying to dry what we took out of the house, including our family photos.

The children are scared. The situation is very dire.”

“I feel hopeless about this village.”

Yusuf Eren Ozkan, 22, is a student at Düzce Univeristy. He wants to be a chef. During the first week of February 2023, he went back to his villages, Polat, Malatya, for a break.

“I came to visit my parents when I had a break from school. The night of the first earthquakes, I was playing video games in my room. At first, I thought it was going to stop shaking after a few seconds, but then I realised this was going to be bigger.

After the first earthquake, me and my family still stayed in our house, and we turned on the TV and tried to find out what happened through the news. That’s when the second earthquake happened, and things got a bit tougher for us.

We went outside and it was very cold, there was a lot of snow on the ground and falling from the sky. Then a rock fell and hit me and my father, and we were injured. We eventually set up a tent by ourselves for protection.

Now, me and my family are working in a communal restaurant, making and serving food for about 4,000 people. I’m here to help, I Iove Polat, but I feel hopeless about this village now. I have many dreams and I just want to live somewhere else. I want to pursue my dream of becoming a chef.”

“Nothing stays in my head. I can’t study.”

Eylül, 13, and Emine, 11, are sisters and live in Kayatepe (Rezip) village, Adıyaman.

“On the night of the earthquakes, there were sounds of buildings collapsing and I could see lights in the sky.

I heard people screaming ‘save me!’. The weather conditions were also difficult at that time, it was snowy and rainy.

I can’t sleep well these days. I also can’t study. It feels like all the information I had in mind is now gone. Whatever I used to know before, I don’t know anymore,” says Eylül.

Emine is also feeling the impact of people moving away.

“I had friends, but they all left because of the earthquake. I miss them all very much. There is no one here. I just stay at home watching TV.

Before the earthquake, I used to go to school, then I would come back home, and I would read my book and play with my friends. Now there are no friends, and I can’t concentrate when reading my book, nothing stays in my head because of the stress.”

Photostory | Having a safe pregnancy in Cabo Delgado

Publication for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) – May 2022

© Mariana Abdalla/MSF

In Cabo Delgado, Mozambique ongoing violence has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes in search of safety. Eduardo Mondlane camp, located in Mueda, is home to more than 2,000 displaced families. 

Many people walked long distances and left their families behind to reach Eduardo Mondlane camp. Others were separated from their loved ones in their travels or witnessed the death of family members because of violence, poor living conditions, and lack of medical care. 

In the camp, many pregnant women have little to no information about pregnancy and there are many challenges to having a safe childbirth. Since October 2021, the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) health promotion team in Mueda has partnered with community leaders and traditional birth attendants in Eduardo Mondlane camp to support pregnant women and young children.

Atija Bacar is 66 years old and lives in Eduardo Mondlane camp for displaced people in Mueda, in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique. She is originally from Mocímboa da Praia, a town heavily hit by attacks due to the ongoing conflict in the northern province. She now works with MSF as a traditional birth attendant (TBA) and assists more than 100 women in the camp. Like many of them, she lived through traumatic experiences, witnessing her husband’s and son’s murder. Now, she says she loves doing her job since she can help women in their time of need – “When I arrived here, this place was a forest. Some good people helped me to get settled. Now I can also help pregnant women. I know they need my support.”

Atija Bacar, 66 years old, lives in Eduardo Mondlane camp, where she also works with MSF as a traditional birth attendant. She is originally from Mocímboa da Praia, a town that has been heavily impacted in the ongoing conflict in Cabo Delgado.

Atija provides care to more than 100 women in the camp. Like many of them, she has lived through traumatic experiences, including witnessing the murder of her husband and son. “When I arrived here, this place was a forest,” says Atija. “Some good people helped me to get settled. Now I can also help pregnant women. I know they need my support.”

Atija Bacar, MSF traditional birth attendant (TBA), at Eduardo Mondlane camp, counsels Amina, 17 years old and 9 months pregnant, and the women in her family.

One of the team’s main goals is to have more women go to the hospital while they are in labour so they can be supported through a safe birth in a sanitised space.

Atija and other birth attendants organize regular talks with pregnant women to pass on health promotion messages, practical logistical information, and to let them know about MSF’s transportation services to the hospital. A chopela, a small motorized three-wheeled vehicle, is always available to transport people to the hospital. The birth attendants regularly visit with women before childbirth and follow up with them after they have given birth.

Muanajuma is from Mocímboa da Praia and has been in Mueda for two years. She had her first son in Palma, while on the run from attacks, and is now pregnant again while residing in Eduardo Mondlane camp for people who are internally displaced.

Our community work with traditional birth attendants in Eduardo Mondlane camp is ongoing, but the team is already thrilled with the positive impacts the initiative is having on women and their families. In January 2022, 33 per cent of the pregnant women living in Eduardo Mondlane camp delivered their babies at a medical facility. In April 2022, that number reached 75 per cent.

Aina Muinde is from Mocímboa da Praia and is 20 years old. She had her first child three days before this picture was taken. She says she is happy to have her baby by her side but is also having a hard time since the father of the child passed away of unknown sickness.


| Photo Gallery | Cuiabá, Brazil, 2016

Part of a narrative storytelling project developed for the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative, an international not-for-profit health organization.

350 million people in 98 countries are at risk of contracting leishmaniasis, a disease caused by Leishmania, a parasyte transmitted by sandflies. Although there has been some progress in drug development, especially for visceral leishmaniasis (also known as kala-azar), current drugs remain expensive, toxic, difficult to administer, or ill-suited for use in remote areas. There is a lack of adequate treatment in Africa and Latin America. While there are some treatments recommended by WHO, sustainable access to treatment is not widely available in endemic countries.


Photos | We Had Bodies

With Amanda Machado || 

“Whatever is going on with the relationship of our bodies and food is either indicative – or the cause of – external things. In January 2018, we hosted a dinner with women in our kitchen to share those stories. We cooked our favorite dishes naked, we ate naked, and chatted naked about the intricate relationship between women, body (image) and food.

Throughout the evening, we took photos that presented a radical idea: the natural female body – in and of itself – is worthy of the human right of health and pleasure. That night, we were not there to appraise bodies, we just had bodies.”

Naked Women Feast is an independent storytelling project that creates safe and radically vulnerable spaces to share and document women’s (and all those who currently or have in the past identify as such) stories about their body. Through nude in-person events, a podcast, and occasionally other multimedia content, the project aims to transform the way we define and relate to the female body.


Our feast and the “We had Bodies” photo series got published at the Let Them Eat Cake zine!