Organ and Tissue Authority

Widows of Parramatta

Article Date: 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The NSW Organ and Tissue Donation Service and the NSW Multicultural Health Communication Service have launched a new 5-part docu-comedy web series - Widows of Parramatta - to highlight the importance of organ and tissue donation in the Arab speaking community.

Widows of Parramatta explores the friendship of three elderly Lebanese-Australian widows, Layla Kisrwani, Jamilie Joseph and Genevieve Khawaji (Jenny) who  have been friends and neighbours for 50 years in Parramatta. The web series follows the three women as they discuss their lives while drinking Arabic coffee, cleaning their husband’s headstones and rolling vine leaves. They discuss their current and olden day lives, share how their children annoy them but their grandchildren don’t, the rituals around life and death in the Arab Australian community, general gossip and who rolls the best vine leaves.

Black comedy in tone, Widows of Parramatta will see the widows remembering the men in their lives and the rituals around burying them. They talk about plans for their own funerals and consider their mortality regularly, contemplating on the question, “What if their husband’s heart were in someone else’s body?”

As Jenny says, “In our time, they never spoke about organ and tissue donation but how times have changed. Now they can put my liver in another body to save someone else’s life. ”

In the series, the widows recall early times in Australia and all that was weird and wonderful about being a migrant in the 1950’s.

Widows of Parramatta is directed by Arab Australian filmmaker, Fadia Abboud, who has been the co-director of the Arab Film Festival Australia since 2007. In 2017 Fadia co-directed an episode of ‘Here Come the Habibs’ (Season 2) with Darren Ashton, and directed the documentary, ‘I Remember 1948’ on SBS. Her short film, ‘Big Trouble Little Fish’ was funded by Parramatta City Council and screened at Flickerfest.

Fadia explains, “Layla lived next door to Jamilie for 10 years and then moved to the other side of Parramatta and has lived next door to Jenny for the last 35 years”

On the importance of registering on the Australian Organ Donor Register, Layla said, “I was shocked upon learning the facts on organ and tissue donation and I believe it is important to have these conversations in our community”. It is particularly important to discuss donation with your loved ones. Families play a crucial role in the donation process because they are asked to consent before donation proceeds.

Captivating and hilarious with unusual and charismatic characters, the Widows of Parramattawill draw you close to appreciate the stories of the widows, and their way of life after the death of their husbands.

The series can be viewed on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqPEFCEwxUFwQk-2hNcfF5g and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/widowsofparramatta/