In search of a dream...

The third-place winner of “Children, Hopes and Dreams”, the first UNICEF Iran and Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance joint photography contest

Mehdi Bolourian, Photojournalist
03 August 2020

Aysel is 5 years old and the youngest member of her family. Like her sister, she's suffering from the problems originated from her parents’ consanguineous marriage. Unfortunately, such marriages lead into the birth of many children with disabilities. According to international statistics, Middle Eastern countries especially Iran suffer from high rates of disability among children caused by this situation.

Aysel was born blind. There have been three surgeries on her eyes so far and now she has an imperfect eyesight. Doctors hope as she grows up, she'll get part of her eyesight.

Her father is a seasonal worker and doesn't have a fixed income. However, he has done whatever in his power, with the help of family members and NGOs, to help Aysel recover her eyesight.

"I've tried hard to see through Aysel's eyes. The world of a baby girl whose dream these days is to get the health of her eyes," says the photographer of this photo essay. 

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Mehdi Bolourian
After many treatments, Aysal enjoys playing with lights of the lamps, turning them on and off.
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Mehdi Bolourian
Sattar, Aysel's father, plays with his daughters at home.
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Mehdi Bolourian
Ayler, her mother, hugs her daughter and sings lullabies for her. Watching Aysel go to school is the most important wish of hers.
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Mehdi Bolourian
Now, Aysel is the most popular member of the family. She and her uncle (Khaled) spend a lot of time with each other.
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Mehdi Bolourian
Aysel enjoys being amongst the children of the village. Slide is her favorite ride in the park.
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Mehdi Bolourian
Because of congenital problems caused by the cousin marriage, Aysa has to suffer the constant pain of having platinum in her pelvic.
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Mehdi Bolourian
Females of the village have participated in the wedding ceremony of Aysel’s aunt. Based on Turkmen people's traditions, their wedding ceremonies last for three days.
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Mehdi Bolourian
Aysel plays with her singing doll - they sing “happy birthday song” together.
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Mehdi Bolourian
Sattar and Ayler are Aysel's parents. They have literally done their best so that their daughter can be cured.
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Mehdi Bolourian
The five-year-old Aysel is waiting to be cured. Since some children make fun of her, her mother keeps Aysel’s fringes low to cover her eyes.

To see the other four winners of “Children, Dreams and Hopes” Photography contest please click here.