Tears run down Naziha’s cheeks as she describes how her husband treated her children. Stripped to the waist, the children were forced to fight, often drawing blood, but never allowed to cry. “I called our place a training camp. A terrorist training camp”.
She is not surprised that many of her 9 sons have ended up violent, angry, and criminal. “Children don’t behave badly for no reason at all. We make them what they are”
With her family so notorious as to appear on the news, Naziha had no choice but to seek help from the authorities. But she was not prepared for what was to follow as agency after agency tried to break her family apart. “Child welfare coming into our family was basically my salvation”
. Having spent years standing by as her brutal husband abused their children, it was only their imminent loss that ignited her passion. “I only became strong when I had to fight for my children”
As her older children have moved out, and the younger ones have benefited from a stable home life, Naziha seems to finally be reaching the normal and serene life she had hoped for. She is active, sharing her experiences of the welfare system with others to prepare them. She has begun to help in the community, liaising with social services for a vulnerable older neighbour, and seeking out a dentist who will treat illegal immigrants.
But just as everything is coming together, disaster strikes. One of her sons has been implicated in the brutal, and ultimately tragic, attack of an official at a children’s football match. Will she able to hold her family, and herself, together in the face of such a crushing setback?
Naziha’s Spring is both a touching, personal story of a person battling circumstance, and an insightful exploration of the role of the family and state in rearing children.
Audience Award - IDFA 2014