Photographer Meets Iconic Photo Subject 33 Years Later

Thirty-three years ago, there was a picture of a one-legged mother with her daughter. The mother wore a long, dark colored skirt that went a bit below her knees, as well as a simple, white, tailored shirt. Her wavy black hair was shoulder length, and she looked into the camera. Her young daughter was walking on crutches, looking down at the ground. The picture took place on a street in Beirut, during a war in Lebanon.

The picture ended up on the front page of the New York Times. It was an iconic picture of the conflict that was happening at the time, and few pictures could match its influence and shock value. The conflict went on for a relatively log time—15 years.

The name of the woman was Samar Baltaji, and her daughter’s name was Nisrine. Thirty-three years after the photograph was taken, Baltaji met up with the photographer, Mahar Attar. The photographer of the iconic picture ran into Baltaji on the street. He was commuting to a gym in the Verdun district of Beirut, and she was on the street, begging.

Baltaji had what many of us would consider a difficult life. During the last 33 years, she lost her other leg—making her a double amputee. She lost it from bone disease twelve years ago. She attributes the loss of her leg to the fact that in 1982, she gave some of her bone marrow to her daughter to save her daughter’s leg. Unfortunately, as an adult, her daughter had a feud with her and kicked her out when the Baltaji’s husband died.

The event of Baltaji’s photograph happened on June 2nd, 1985. Baltaji lost her leg because she was in her living room when a rocket exploded. She spent the last 33 years valiantly raising a family of four children in a dysfunctional city.

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