An Intimate, Exclusive Interview With MOUNEB TAIM
Lens Magazine|December 2021
After a bloody day, the man walks sadly on a street where more than 80 men have been killed following an airstrike by warplanes.

Muneb Taim, born in 2001, is an Award-winning international photojournalist, covering news stories with a focus on social issues and war zones, currently based in the Syrian-Turkey border as a freelance photographer who mostly works for Anadolu Ajansı and Zuma Press.

At the beginning of his career, in 2014, he worked as an independent reporter. He covered the life under the Siege in Douma, Eastern Ghouta, Idlib, and the countryside of Aleppo until early 2020. Taim Documented massacres, destruction, and people's hard life caused by airstrikes and bombing almost daily. During the past ten years, he lived under the Siege in his city. In the middle of 2012, the Syrian regime forces besieged Douma from all sides and began attacking it. The shelling and bombing prevented him from getting to school on his final exams and caused him to fail that year. Security circumstances prevented him from attending school for a whole year, but he eventually managed to continue high school. For three years, he put his life in danger by documenting what was happening for a local publication. He gained a lot of experience, though, and journalism became his passion and interest.

Lens Magazine: Thank you, Mouneb Taim, for taking the time to do this interview. As I understand, you are located now at the Syrian Turkish border, covering the refugee's stories. You started your photojournalism career at a very young age; When most children usually focus on education and go to high school, your everyday life was interrupted by the bombing in 2012 on Duma. Can you tell us about those years and how you started with photography?

Mouneb Taim: I started my photojournalism after my brother was killed in 2014 from the bombing. I was 13 years old, and it was very hard to deal with his death. He was a respectable photojournalist, and I felt the need to continue his legacy. In some way, it made me feel a continuous connection with him after his death. I used to go out to photograph in secret, as my family did not accept this matter, but I went out to photograph despite that.

L.M: Can you describe your life and conditions in those years? How does a young teenager survive in this unbelievable devastating reality?

M.T.: It is tough to describe the conditions I was living in at such a young age. But as I think about it, I realize that while in the ordinary life, when any teenager lives his life with his family, thinking about his girlfriend, thinking about the next friends gathering and the high school studying, I was living it with the bombing. But if the country was my girlfriend, then I was risking my life for her. I remember it as it was yesterday when I was leftalone after a day of heavy bombardment; I entered a place alone. This place is between the Siege forces and the opposition, the dividing line, which is a very dangerous location. I stayed there for 18 hours alone. I waited for the bombing to finish and to be able to escape.

L.M: Did your family was affected by these bombings?

M.T.: Yes, It's very sad. My brother, the photographer, was killed in those bombings. My father was in a terrible condition, affected by the blockade, and almost died of hunger, as we didn't have anything to eat. When a city is being bombed, and the regime is everywhere, you can't escape from hunger; you can't escape from the distraction. My mother became ill with a nervous problem due to the bombing sounds, which became a psychological condition, and her condition must be treated because she could not live with light or any sound. It reminds her of the bombing. It was a difficult period, where the most basic need is to help and support your family, yet you are too young and feel helpless. I think that one of the worst things during the war, any war, is to see your beloved ones and the people you care about, experiencing pain, with no way to help them.

In war, life has a different meaning; everything considered normal in everyday life will disappear. The daily routine is abnormal, even if it seems normal to the people who live there. Every day, bombs fall, people die, and buildings will be destroyed. The truth of the war is undeniable. However, some people are trying to resist this terrible war's bitterness with their determination, hope, and desire to live.

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