A journey through love, motherhood, war and survival in Syria

In 2017, young Syrian filmmaker Waad Al Kateab received a special award from the Thomson Foundation to recognise her "outstanding coverage" of the suffering in the city of Aleppo.

The award, part of Thomson Foundation's Young Journalist Award with the UK's Foreign Press Association, was given because Waad's storytelling for the UK's Channel 4 News "provided a unique perspective" into the horror of the Syrian conflict.

Twelve months later, Waad, her husband, and their two young daughters are living in London, having been granted asylum. Now Waad's documentary 'For Sama' has been commissioned by Channel 4 and PBS Frontline.

It tells the story of her 'journey through love, motherhood, war and survival'. The film is Waad's attempt to explain to her daughter why they chose to stay behind in Aleppo, while others left.

"It's our story, our voices and I'm proud of it," says Waad. "This film is also for the people we lost – a testament to their sacrifices."

"It's our story, our voices and I'm proud of it."

Waad Al Kateab

Waad is still working for Channel 4 News, learning about reporting, production, and digital journalism. "We finally have a normal life as a family," she says.

Waad misses Syria and desperately wants the country to find peace. "I don't see any life for us in Syria in the immediate future, but perhaps in the long term."

 A woman's perspective

"Waad filmed beautifully in Syria; self-taught, mother of a toddler and gave birth to a baby during the whole business of filming, and that informed the beauty of what she did. It took us right inside a woman's perspective of what it is like to be inside Syria", said Jon Snow, presenter of Channel 4 News, who accepted the Thomson Foundation special recognition award on Waad's behalf in 2017.

"Her work has been seen by 500 million people around the world. An incredible feat for someone who literally picked up a camera, taught herself and produced the most wonderful images in the most terrible conflict."


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Read more about Thomson Foundation's Young Journalist Award winners, including the first Russian winner, Alisa Kustikova, and Sudanese winner, Yousra Elbagir, reporting on the Sudan uprising for Channel 4 News

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