Palestinian youth tell the human stories behind the numbers in the news

Palestinian youth tell the human stories behind the numbers in the news

Nana and the nymph

Hajar Harb | 27-05-2021

A photo of 8-year-old Nana al-Akkad and her cousin from Khan Younis, snapped by chance by Gazan photographer Mahmoud al-Akkad, spread on social media like wildfire during the recent Israeli aggression. The photo shows Nana carrying a small jar with a baby fish, the only survivor among the ornamental fish she had cared for prior to the assault.

Perhaps what inspired the viral sharing was that in the midst of the shelling and destruction, surrounding them from all sides, the children looked as if they had managed to preserve something precious.

"We saved both our fish and birds," the children said triumphantly.

Nana’s mother, Um Mohammed al-Akkad, explained that on the last night of Ramadan, the family was alarmed to notice that public buildings like banks were being targeted in their neighborhood.  

"We didn’t plan to leave our house, despite the great destruction and repeated shelling around us, but we live only 4 meters from a (major) bank. Then, on the morning of Eid, as we prepared for the holiday despite the trauma, we heard neighbors calling, telling us to leave because the occupation forces were about to bomb the bank."

Nana was laying her Eid clothes out on her bed at the time but rushed to the street with her family. She was forced to leave her fish and birds behind. The bombing damaged many of the homes’ walls, including her own. Finally, after about two hours, she and her mother were able to return to check on her pets. 

"Me and my friends were afraid for them,” Nana recalls. “I was afraid I wouldn’t find them. As soon as it was safe, I went to check on them, although I ran around fast because I was afraid we’d be targeted again.”

Their house sustained heavy damage to the walls, although the family is living amidst the destruction. When Nana first entered her bedroom, she found her Eid clothes full of dust from the bombing—along with the birds, one dead fish and another she thought was about to die.

“I put it in a mermaid jar and went out to buy food for it, but the shops were all closed. While I was walking around with it, we discovered it is not only alive but fine!” Nana smiled.

The photo captured by Mahmoud al-Akkad quickly circulated on social media as a symbol of both the challenge and love of life. Digital cartoonist Zeina Abdel Hakim saw it and created an illustration of the touching scene for Instagram with the caption, "The children of Palestine, who are the targets of the Israeli occupation forces, seek love and life in the midst of the destruction."

Later, Abdel Hakim’s illustration was animated and translated into many different languages, becoming a symbol of everything beautiful Israel tries to destroy.

The story has come to be known as “Nana and the nymph.” She the little girl couldn’t be more delighted.

This story was first published by Alquds, and the first translation into English was done by Helmi Shurrab.

Posted: May 26, 2021

Mentor: Pam Bailey

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