Ron Coello is a London based freelance photographer. He has worked in Africa and The Middle East and has a number of UK based clients. His first visit to Palestine was when he visited The West Bank in 2004.
In 2015, he was asked to travel to Lebanon to document the work of an American NGO – ANERA (American Near East Refugee Aid) – in the Palestinian camps throughout the country. During this visit, he was taken to the camp of Ein el Helweh in the South of the country. Ein el Helweh is the largest camp in Lebanon – and it is estimated that around 120,000 people live there. It was during this visit, that he met Oyoun Shabayta. Oyoun is the Field Education Coordinator for ANERA. She has lived in the camp her entire life – as have her parents – and since 1948 – her grand-parents. The work he saw her doing with a young Syrian boy, traumatised by the death of his parents in Syria, so moved him, he decided to return to find out more about her and her family.
During these visits (the last was at the end of 2017), a story began to unfold. In May 1948, the family were forced to flee a small village in the North of Palestine – called Hittin. They eventually settled in Lebanon. And never returned. And like so many of the hundreds of Palestinian villages that were ethnically cleansed in 1948, Hittin, was simply removed from the map.
In March 2018, Ron visited Palestine to see what was left of Hittin……….