The world is watching

Feb 27, 2024
Artist and illustrator Anna Dittmann, from Abbeyhill, Edinburgh, works on a mural at Quality Yard in Leith, that features Bisan Owda, a 25-year-old journalist in Palestine. Picture date: Sunday January 28, 2024. Image: Alamy

In a small dark and windy lane in Leith in Edinburgh I got into a conversation with an artist painting a bright yellow mural of a young woman on a wall. The artist told me she was painting Bisan, a young journalist, who opens all her posts with – “Hey everyone, this is Bisan from Gaza and I’m still alive”. On my regular treks to the tram stop I watched over several days as the mural was finished in the wet, windy and cold Edinburgh weather.

I asked the young artist if I could take her picture and send it to my friends and colleagues in Western Sydney, who I thought would be delighted to see the mural of Bisan. A few days later I noticed a bunch of brightly coloured tulips placed on the wet black pavement in front of the mural.

Image supplied/ author

I now follow Bisan on Instagram. Her stories are brave and heart wrenching and a powerful witness. Sometimes they are too hard to finish. A few days ago she told us about the young couple in Rafah who had married three days before and along with seven other families had been killed in bomb attacks. Bisan spoke about this young couple’s marriage as hope for the future and how any hope was continuously being destroyed. Today Bisan posted about growing numbers of people dying from hunger because only very pathetically small amounts of food relief was allowed into Gaza.

Whilst I have greatly valued the thoughtful and often provoking articles from many authors who have helped me better understand the horrific war in Palestine, sometimes a single person inspired to paint a bright mural of one brave young person can powerfully demonstrate that the world is indeed watching; watching closely and definitely fearfully and perhaps also hopefully.

So greetings from a small windy dark lane in Leith, Scotland where each day passers by walking to the tram stop are greeted with – “Hey everyone this is Bisan from Gaza and I’m still alive”.

Editor’s note: P&I follows Bisan on Instagram and if you are an Instagram user you can follow Bisan here.

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