When invited to this project, I hesitated. With such painstakingly personal project to Palestine, I didn't feel it was my story to tell. Much of my documentary work focuses on Palestine, but told as outsider/insider. A Jordanian who intimately grew up with the Palestinian narrative, devoted much study to it, but was raised for years in Texas. A dual national Jordanian-Circassian and US citizen. However, the inclusion of my six year old daughter, Naya, (a Palestinian) made the collaboration more sincere, to illustrate the story of Anwar Yousef. It was also an opportunity to teach her further about her history. She already has a strong sense of conviction for what is just and what is hurtful. When I read her the story of Anwar, her brow furrowed and she quietened. She confessed that it both saddened and angered her. Together--we decided to create images to tell Anwar's story. Our favorite is the beautiful and disturbing "Swimming with Khubaze", titled by Naya herself. She interpreted this as swimming in a dream, maintaining the happier memories of his mother's cooking and Palestine, and using the water to cleanse away the hurt.
Anwar Mohammed Yousef was born between Yatta, Hebron, and Amman, as his family fled during the Nakba in 1948. He grew up in Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan. Anwar holds a Ph.D in computer engineering from Columbia University; He strongly believes in the power of education. Anwar has returned to Palestine a few times, and continues to share stories of his homeland with his children.