التّيه

Our Limbo

Natalie Naccache

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"Psychologically, mentally, emotionally, it's on lockdown for all of us", Diana, age 24 from Damascus, residing in Qatar.

A group of young Syria women, who grew up together, left for Beirut before the outbreak of the civil war to study in Lebanese universities. Their plan was always to return to Syria, to their families and find jobs. As the civil war unfolded, their plans to return to their homeland faded. After they graduated, their tight group had been broken into fragments that would end up in different countries. This story focuses on the psychological effects of losing your homeland, and the difficulty of adapting to a new country.

It is estimated that three and a half million Syrians have left the country during the course of the civil war which erupted in 2011. Over three million have sought refuge in neighboring countries such as Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq. Meanwhile, approximately 150,000 Syrians have declared asylum in the European Union and millions remain displaced within Syria.

Lebanon

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BEIRUT, LEBANON. January 23, 2015 – The "Our Limbo" journal, the world map illustrates where the subjects of the story live.

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BEIRUT, LEBANON. November 21, 2014 – 23-year-old Tala's dried Jasmines in her notebook at her new home in Beirut. The Jasmines are from Damascus. "This war has lost a lot of who I am, I'm not used to being so dead inside. I close my eyes and wish this wasn't reality. That this was a movie.”

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DUBAI, UAE. October 14, 2014 – Nadia, 23-years-old, from Damascus in her apartment. "I'm not really here, I go to work, come back, eat, go to sleep so I don't feel it as much.”

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BEIRUT, LEBANON. January 23, 2015 – A video still of Tala as a child on a slide in Damascus. The home video was one of the most precious items brought back from Damascus, Syria.

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BEIRUT, LEBANON. January 23, 2015 – The "Our Limbo" journal, writing sewn into the journal which is from Tala's interview, with her home video stills from Damascus.

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BEIRUT, LEBANON. January 23, 2015 – The "Our Limbo" journal. Left is a photograph of Daniela in London, England watching home videos from Damascus, right is Daniela waiting at a bus stop in London, England.

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BEIRUT, LEBANON. January 23, 2015 – The "Our Limbo" journal, the spread is about Daniela from Damascus, now living in London. Left is a quote from Daniela's interview, right is a portrait of Diana in her home in London, England.

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DOHA, QATAR. November 16. 2015 – Diana, 24-years-old, from Damascus, Syria wears a necklace "Lucky", which her mother gave her after a serious car accident she had in Beirut.

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BEIRUT, LEBANON. September 24, 2014 – Tala, 23 from Damascus drives home in her car in Beirut. All her friends have left Beirut after university.

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BEIRUT, LEBANON. January 23, 2015 – The "Our Limbo" journal, the spread is about Nadia from Damascus, photographed in Dubai, UAE, with quotes from her interview.

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DUBAI, UAE. October 14, 2014 – Nadia, 23-years-old, from Damascus with her prayer mat, which was one of the few precious items with her in Dubai from Syria. "I've had it since I was five, it was the one I was taught to pray on, which I still use today.”

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DUBAI, UAE. October 14, 2014 – Nadia, 23-years-old, from Damascus in her apartment. "I'm not really here, I go to work, come back, eat, go to sleep so I don't feel it as much.”

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BEIRUT, LEBANON. January 23, 2015 – The "Our Limbo" journal, the spread is about Sima from Damascus, photographed in Beirut with quotes from her interview.

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BEIRUT, LEBANON. August 4, 2014 – Sima's tattoo on her torso in Arabic calligraphy. It says, "How noble is the sad heart that is allowed by his sadness to sing and dance along with the joyous hearts.”

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BEIRUT, LEBANON. August 8, 2014 – Sima, from Damascus celebrates her birthday with her friends at Train Station Lounge.

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BEIRUT, LEBANON. August 4, 2014 – Sima, from Damascus dries her face in her bathroom at her home.

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BEIRUT, LEBANON. November 4, 2014 – Tala waits on the rooftop of a tattoo artist for her tattoo to be done.

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BEIRUT, LEBANON. January 23, 2015 – The "Our Limbo" journal, the spreads are about Diana, which include screen shots of her Instagram feed, illustrations which depict her feeling "ripped out of her roots.”

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DUBAI, UAE. October 18, 2014 – An ashtray of cigarettes at Nadia's home in Dubai. Since the conflict in Syria began, most of the ladies have begun to smoke very heavily as part of a coping mechanism.

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BEIRUT, LEBANON. January 23, 2015 – The "Our Limbo" journal, left, an Instagram photograph of Diana and her Fiance Tarek, and right, a quote from Diana.

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BEIRUT, LEBANON. September 22, 2014 – Diana's mother Souad, a mother of three, from Damascus, sits in her art studio surrounded by her paintings, since the war began in Syria her paintings have gotten progressively darker.

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BEIRUT, LEBANON. January 23, 2015 – The "Our Limbo" journal, the left hand page is Souad's Diary entry, right is her portrait in her art studio, with her diary entry over-lapping her portrait.

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BEIRUT, LEBANON. October 23, 2014 – A photograph of Nina, 29-years-old, from Damascus, Syria. Nina, who has Downs Syndrome, who is Diana's sister won many swimming medals including a Golden meal freestyle special Olympics winner in Athens. Her mother Souad, says she is having trouble adapting to a new life in Beirut, leaving her childhood friends, and activities in Damascus.

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BEIRUT, LEBANON. January 23, 2015 – The "Our Limbo" journal, the writing is from Diana's interview.

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DOHA, QATAR. October 22, 2014 – Diana, 24-years-old, from Damascus, Syria holds a ring she made for her fiance in her hotel room. She says, "We met in school in Damascus, and we are getting married in the summer. But not in Syria. We do not know where we will be in summer. It kills me. We always wanted our children to be raised in Syria and go to the same school that brought our hearts together. There's no place like home."

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DOHA, QATAR. October 26, 2014 – Diana and her fiance Tarek at a friend's home gathering. Tarek was visiting Diana, who is currently living and working as an assistant producer for Al Jazeera English, whilst Tarek works in Sharjah, UAE. The couple will be getting married in August 2015.

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DOHA, QATAR. February 20, 2014 – A pink coloured pigeon flies between buildings.

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DOHA, QATAR. October 22, 2014 – Diana, 24-years-old, from Damascus, has the wind blow in her hair against a billboard near a City Center shopping center in Doha.

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DOHA, QATAR. October 21, 2014 – Diana smokes a cigarette on a residential rooftop. She doesn't like heights, so Dubai and Doha are a big adjustment for her, "they're too tall, too artificial looking". A big contrast from her ground-floor villa in Damascus in a close-knit community.

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DOHA, QATAR. October 23, 2014 – Diana wears a necklace of a map of Syria. She keeps it on to feel closer to home at a social gathering.

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BEIRUT, LEBANON. January 23, 2015 – The "Our Limbo" journal, with photographs of Diana on a balcony (left) and Diana's necklace which is a map of Syria that she never removes.

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DOHA, QATAR. October 27, 2014 – Diana has a cigarette break outside the Al Jazeera English News studio. She says, "every time I see a beheading, a child raped, a building bombed, someone died, I feel a piece of me falling off.”

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DOHA, QATAR. October 27, 2014 – Diana on her work desk at the Al Jazeera English News studio. She says, "every time I see a beheading, a child raped, a building bombed, someone died, I feel a piece of me falling off.”

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BEIRUT, LEBANON. January 23, 2015 – The "Our Limbo" journal, the right page shows Diana's painting of a nightmare she had about Homs, Syria. The left page shows photographs of Diana painting.

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DOHA, QATAR. October 21, 2014 – Diana relaxes on a residential rooftop after work. She often recalls memories from Syria, comparing everyday places, events "back home.”

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BEIRUT, LEBANON. January 23, 2015 – The "Our Limbo" journal, painted words said in an interview by Tala.

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BEIRUT, LEBANON. September 21, 2014 – 23-year-old Tala from Damascus' holds one of her paintings she made in response to Syria's war in her bedroom. Although she went to university in Beirut, her plan was always to go back to Damascus and find work. "This war has lost a lot of who I am, I'm not used to being so dead inside. I close my eyes and wish this wasn't reality. That this was a movie.”

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BEIRUT, LEBANON. February 10, 2015 – Diana and Souad's family photo album. The photo albums were the most precious objects she managed to take out of her home in Damascus, Syria.

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BEIRUT, LEBANON. January 23, 2015 – The "Our Limbo" journal, Diana's diary entry, the photograph on the bottom left-hand side is a screenshot of Diana's Instagram feed where she was welcomed into Syria through a text message whilst in Lebanon.

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BEIRUT, LEBANON. November 27, 2014 – Souad hugs her daughter Diana as she arrives from Qatar into Beirut, outside Beirut's Rafik Hariri International Airport. Since the civil war in Syria began, Souad's family members have been placed into different countries due to work opportunities. The text on the photo is handwritten by Souad herself.

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BEIRUT, LEBANON. January 23, 2015 – The "Our Limbo" journal, the photographs show Diana at the The Boustan hotel for Diana's wedding venue viewing, in Beit Mery, Lebanon.

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BEIT MERY, LEBANON. November 28, 2014 – Diana walks around the grounds of the Boustan Hotel where she may have her wedding in August 2015.

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BEIRUT, LEBANON. January 23, 2015 – A video still of Tala as a child at a family picnic in Damascus. The home video was one of the most precious items brought back from Damascus, Syria.

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BEIRUT, LEBANON. January 23, 2015 – The "Our Limbo" journal, the photographs show Souad and her daughter Diana at the The Boustan hotel for Diana's wedding venue viewing, in Beit Mery, Lebanon.

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JAL EL DIB, LEBANON. November 4, 2014 – Tala looks over a view of Beirut just after she has a tattoo with the initials of her family on her back. Overwhelmed with work, dealing with a break-up, Tala felt like "a weight had been lifted, it was something I always wanted to do for me, I never used to put me first."

Natalie Naccache

Lebanon

Natalie Naccache is a Lebanese-British photojournalist based in Beirut, Lebanon. Having been raised by Lebanese parents in London, her work challenges preconceived ideas of the Middle East in modern-day society. Naccache holds a BA in photojournalism from London College of Communication and a Diploma of Art Foundation from Camberwell College of Arts, London. Her photographs have been featured widely in international publications and she is represented by Reportage by Getty Images.

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