Palestinian territories - A new group of Palestinian young men and women has been accepted into the seventeenth cohort of Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor’s project We Are Not Numbers (WANN).
The new cohort unites 25 young Palestinians living in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), Lebanon, Jordan, the United States, and Turkiye.
On Monday, as part of the project, an induction day was held for new writers who will be joining a six-month training program covering topics such as basic writing skills, storytelling, public speaking, addressing Western media, International Law, Human rights, and other important topics, with experts and specialists from all over the world.
During the day, participants were introduced to the project, its goals, and how it works. In her opening remarks to the writers, WANN Project Manager Enas Ghannam said that the project aims to change the victim stereotype reinforced by Western media, which deals with people as numbers rather than humans with stories.
“Stories tell history, they were there before the pen, before the civilisations, they show the minds of people from different backgrounds, and they are what helps us become who we are.”
“Today you are starting to become part of history, from this day on, you will be the writers of the reality or of what goes in your mind. Today you will be the writers of your own stories.” Ghannam said.
WANN’s mission, as implied by its title, is to transform preconceived misconceptions about victims of armed conflicts frequently held by Western audiences. By highlighting the shared humanity between Westerners and the victims behind the numbers in the news, the writing will provide an opportunity to highlight the stories, personalities, dreams, hopes, talents, and dreams that are often obscured by the focus on numbers.
During each of the project's six-month cycles, these workshops are offered to a group of new writers. Topics outside of creative and journalistic writing can include social media, and how to approach Western readers.
The workshops are led by trainers who are either professional writers based in the Palestinian territories (primarily the Gaza Strip), or international journalists or authors visiting the Strip—many of whom are mentors in the program themselves.
Alice Rothchild is WANN’s mentors’ coordinator. She discussed the mentoring process, which trainees will experience during the second half of their time at WANN, during which they will spend three months working directly with their assigned mentors.
Cathy Baker, a senior editor at WANN, also stated that having read many stories published on the WANN website helped her to better understand the lives of Palestinians in Palestine, despite never having visited the occupied territories herself.
Former WANNer Ahmed Dremly wrapped up the session by sharing his success story about his personal experience at WANN. He told the new WANNers how WANN helped boost his skills and has allowed him to become a freelance journalist who contributes to international news websites.
WANN offers youth education on written forms of expression as well as video production, voice-over, and drama.
The stories and essays written by writers within We Are Not Numbers are edited by international mentors and then posted on www.wearenotnumbers.org