Syrian Father and Son Head to Italy After Viral Photo Spurs International Fundraiser

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Currents News Staff

This picture was declared “Photo of the Year” at the 2021 Siena International Photo Awards. It’s called “Life’s challenges.”

The father’s name is Munzir. He lost his leg during a bombing in Syria. His son, Mustafa, was born without arms or legs because of a chemical attack during the war that affected his mother when she was pregnant.

The picture was taken by Mehmet Aslan and is considered an accurate representation of the difficulties of the war in Syria. But it’s also an ode to hope. What Mehmet never imagined was that it would one day go viral and help bring the family to Italy.

The festival organizers decided to put together a fundraiser to bring the family to a center where they could receive treatment and the prostheses they need.

“When we saw that the picture was being re-posted by actors, famous people and the world’s most important news outlets, beyond the satisfaction of having succeeded in diffusing this photo, we began to wonder if it was enough to talk about this story as an example of the consequences of war, or if we could do something more to actually change this family’s life,” said Siena International Photo Awards’ Luca Venturi. 

Luca Venturi, the festival director, explains that they have so far managed to raise the money necessary to get the family to Italy and provide them with initial medical attention. But they still have a long road ahead of them, since they will need to raise even more money to get the boy new prostheses as he continues to grow.

Venturi says it’s too early to claim victory, but for the family, it’s progress in their search for a better future. Mustafa and his family landed in Rome earlier in January and will later be resettled in Siena, the home of the photography festival.