Iran: Two Wings of a Butterfly
Zahra had a dream: to be as light as a butterfly. And to fly. One day. In this world, however, her dream will no longer come true. Zahra died at the age of 13. She spent the last three years of her life bravely fighting against bone cancer. One awful round after another. It began with chemotherapy, which was so futile that Zahra first had to have her right leg amputated, then required lumbar vertebrae surgery that resulted in her spinal cord being damaged and left her paraplegic.
Iranian photographer Shayan Hajinajaf accompanied the girl’s ordeal intensively and with great empathy: they shared moments when Zahra smiled and moments when she could barely breathe; moments of comfort with her family and moments alone in a hospital bed, attempts to walk at the beginning and the sheer agony at the end. According to the Iranian Pediatric Blood and Cancer Association, 2500 children under the age of 15 are diagnosed with cancer annually in Iran.
Photographer: Shayan Hajinajaf, Iran (Agentur ISNA)
Shayan Hajinajaf, born in 1993, has a degree in Mathematics, a master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and has worked as a photojournalist since 2016. He has worked as editor-in-chief/publisher of two university magazines; his images are featured in several photography books and have been published in The Independent, Der Spiegel, The Daily Mail, and others.
Hajinajaf’s previous photo series included one on children killed in the Iran-Iraq war, for which he already received a first honorable mention in the ‘UNICEF Photo of the Year 2018’ contest.