You might recognize this image as the grand-prize winner in last year’s Siena International Photo Awards. As we shared in October, it depicts Syrian war refugee Munzir El Nezzel holding his five-year-old son, Mustafa, in a Turkish relocation village. Our description back then: “They’re as intensely connected as any two creatures can be, incandescent with love, heartache, hope, fear, joy, and mourning. Their burdens are impossible to miss. So is their resilience. . . . . If you could condense the whole journey of limb loss into a single frame, it might look something like this.”
At that time, the El Nezzel family was still in the midst of a fruitless, months-long quest to find prosthetic limbs for Mustafa. Last week, their prayers were finally answered: With the help of a GoFundMe campaign organized by the Siena Awards, the entire family was flown to the Italian province of Bologna, where Mustafa and Munzir will both be fitted for prosthetic limbs at the Centro Protesi Inail.
According to the New York Times, “the father could recover most of his mobility in a few weeks. For Mustafa, the process could be longer, starting with simple prosthetics on his upper limbs that are usually easier to accept and get accustomed to. Later, engineers will design artificial limbs around Mustafa’s hips.”
Speaking to an Italian reporter, Munzir expressed two wishes for the future. First is “the possibility of sending my three children to school. Only with an education will they be able to have a future worthy of the name.” And the other? “I hope to receive [Mustafa’s] embrace, even if it will be a prosthetic embrace. This is the thing that interests me most at this moment.”
There’s a long way to go for this family, but they have come so far already. Mustafa reportedly told an Italian news site: “I want to go to school! I want to get in the car and drive! I’ll go to the University!”
The Go Fund Me remains active, by the way—while the cost of resettling the family has been raised, there will be additional bills for prosthetic devices and care. A Catholic aid organization is covering the family’s daily living expenses for the time being.
Read our original coverage: Photo of the Year Portrays Father-Son Amputee Embrace