amina faleh sales zaher, 71 years old / by Maranie Staab

amina faleh sales zaher, 71 years old, currently living in the sabra and shatila camp in beirut, lebanon.

one of 11 children, amina was born in 1945 in the village of deir el kassi, palestine. she was 3 years old when israel bombed her house killing her sister and injuring her and her siblings. .
educated through the 5th grade, Amina dropped out of school in order to help her family make ends meet — beginning a night-shift working in a cottony factory at the age of 14 and assisting her mother around the house and with her siblings by day. when I asked amina when she slept she gave a shrug that told me that she simply found a way to manage.

at 21, she married and over the course of several years gave birth to 10 children — 8 boys and 2 girls. .
amina gave birth to her last child at age 37 and for the last 30 years has worked as a housekeeper in a factory that makes notebooks and pencils. .
life in the camp is hard but okay, primarily because all of her children live in the camp and visit her often. though, when asked what her dream is she told me that it is to be able to "return to palestine and to have a house with a garden so that all of my family could live together in peace. inshallah”

originally built for 3,000 palestinians in 1949, the sabra and shatila camps are now home to more than 22,000 individuals -- and more refugees trickle in every day, casualties of the syrian conflict. within the camp, electricity is intermittent at best, sewer drains are visibly open and the salty water that runs through the pipes is not drinkable.

according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), 10 percent of lebanons population is comprised of palestinian refugees, but 56 percent do not have jobs and two-thirds live on less than $6 a day.

palestinians cannot own property and as many as 20 occupations are off-limits. for example, driving taxis is not allowed; though, when i visited the camp a palestinian driver escorted us to and from the camp in his unmarked, beat-up toyota.