The Garlic Lady

The story of a Woman I first met when I was 14 years old, during my volunteering work in the vulnerable neighborhoods of Tripoli, Lebanon.
She was holding her new-born son whose head has been bitten by a rat. Her husband was in jail , charged of theft, and she had two little daughters.
Her job was (and still is) to peel garlic for restaurants to earn less than $0.3 per kilogram.
The smell of the house was a blend of the smell of garlic and poverty. Her hands had turned black over the years. I left, with a heartache, feeling incapable of making a change.

15 years later, after I quit my job with the Ministry Of Social Affairs in Lebanon, where I worked on the Syrian Refugees file, I went back to my hometown to search for the Garlic Lady.

Few weeks later, I met with her. The smell was the same. Everything was the same, except that now she is a widow, as her husband was killed, her 16 years old daughter out of school and divorced, and her son in jail. The only “good” news was that she now earns $0.7 per kilogram of peeled garlic.

This painting represents the scars and pain of every woman who has a similar story, as painted in the background. An emphasis on her working hands, coming out of the wooden canvas, holding a big heavy golden garlic. Oh, how I wish for her to actually have this much gold to change her life, get her son out of jail, put her daughters back in school and move to house where no rats nor garlic can be found anymore.

The story of a Woman I first met when I was 14 years old, during my volunteering work in the vulnerable neighborhoods of Tripoli, Lebanon.
She was holding her new-born son whose head has been bitten by a rat. Her husband was in jail , charged of theft, and she had two little daughters.
Her job was (and still is) to peel garlic for restaurants to earn less than $0.3 per kilogram.
The smell of the house was a blend of the smell of garlic and poverty. Her hands had turned black over the years. I left, with a heartache, feeling incapable of making a change.

15 years later, after I quit my job with the Ministry Of Social Affairs in Lebanon, where I worked on the Syrian Refugees file, I went back to my hometown to search for the Garlic Lady.

Few weeks later, I met with her. The smell was the same. Everything was the same, except that now she is a widow, as her husband was killed, her 16 years old daughter out of school and divorced, and her son in jail. The only “good” news was that she now earns $0.7 per kilogram of peeled garlic.

This painting represents the scars and pain of every woman who has a similar story, as painted in the background. An emphasis on her working hands, coming out of the wooden canvas, holding a big heavy golden garlic. Oh, how I wish for her to actually have this much gold to change her life, get her son out of jail, put her daughters back in school and move to house where no rats nor garlic can be found anymore.

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