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Eleven Women Facing War: New Exhibit at the War Museum

BY ADELLE FARRELLY

Mariatu Kamara stands by the current exhibition Eleven Women Facing War at the Canadian War Museum. Kamara is one of the women photographed and interviewed in this striking new exhibit (Photo: S. Darby ©Canadian War Museum, Corporate Photo Collection)

The devastation of war can reveal humanity’s remarkable will to survive.

The Canadian War Museum’s current exhibition Eleven Women Facing War displays this will through the work of photojournalist Nick Danziger.

In 2001, Danziger, working for the Red Cross, travelled to Afghanistan, the Balkans, Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Sierra Leone, and Columbia, where he interviewed and photographed women soon after they had experienced horrific and life-altering events.

Mariatu Kamara, pictured above at the War Museum’s current exhibition, is one of those women. Both of her arms were amputated in Sierra Leone, when she was just 12 years old, by child soldiers.

A decade after Danziger’s first encounter with Kamara and the 10 other women, he set out to find them again. By 2011 he had located all but one of the women he originally photographed —Mah-Bibi was rumoured to have died in Afghanistan at the age of 15, five years after Danziger first met her.

The current exhibit at the War Museum showcases both the deep trauma these remarkable women have endured, and the new lives they have built for themselves, through photographs and powerful first-person stories.

Mariatu eventually made her way to Canada, where she studied social work at George Brown College in Toronto. She is a UNICEF Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict, and in 2008, wrote her memoir, The Bite of the Mango, with Susan McClelland.

Eleven Women Facing War runs until April 21 at the Canadian War Museum.

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