Thirty-two young Palestinian men and women from the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Lebanon, Malaysia, the United States, and Turkey have been accepted into the 18th cohort of the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor’s project We Are Not Numbers (WANN).

On Monday, the project held an induction day for the new writers who will join a six-month intensive training and mentorship program led by experts and specialists from all over the world and focused on writing, storytelling, public speaking, addressing the Western media, international law, human rights, journalism, and other important topics.

   Over the years, WANN has nurtured a community of talented writers who have contributed to a deeper understanding of life under occupation, challenging stereotypes and misconceptions   

Enas Ghannam, WANN Project Manager

WANN primarily aims to assist and support Palestinian youth in sharing their personal stories and the stories of their community, following a human rights approach that delves beyond numbers, statistics, and news reports about Palestinians. In its essence, WANN seeks to engage the profound emotional and intellectual dimensions of writers’ multifaceted experiences, aspirations, and concerns. 

WANN’s mission is to create a new generation of Palestinian writers and thinkers who can bring profound change to the reality of victims of the occupation and make their voices heard. WANN also provides the international community with direct access to victims’ narrative without restrictions or intermediaries.  

During the induction event, participants were introduced to the project, its goals, and process. In her opening remarks to the writers,  the Strategy Director at Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor Maha Hussaini stated that We Are Not Numbers comes as part of Euro-Med Monitor’s work philosophy of turning victims from passive recepients of aid into active human rights defenders.

“The project has empowered Palestinian youth victims of human rights violations for nearly nine years, and helped hundreds of young Palestinians tell their stories.” she said.

WANN Project Manager Enas Ghannam said the project aims to change the perception of the victim stereotype reinforced by Western media, which addresses them statistically rather than as human beings with stories.

“Over the years, WANN has nurtured a community of talented writers who have contributed to a deeper understanding of life under occupation, challenging stereotypes and misconceptions,” Ghannam said. “We firmly believe that this new cohort will continue to enrich this narrative, fostering greater empathy, awareness, and solidarity on a global scale.”

Over the next six months, WANN’s 18th cohort will undergo a three-phase program. The project will first begin with intensive training sessions in which writers will learn creative and journalistic writing skills, human rights, basic tenets of international law, as well as debating skills.

The workshops are led by trainers who are either professional writers based in the Palestinian territory (primarily the Gaza Strip), or international journalists or authors visiting the Strip—many of whom are mentors in the program themselves.

Next, the writers will be paired with native English-speaking mentors who will provide personalised guidance and masterful feedback to help writers refine their skills and create impactful narratives. The final phase of the program involves publishing the participants' stories on WANN's official website as well as providing them with opportunities to publish with paying partners and agencies.  

In a recorded speech, Alice Rothchild, the Mentorship Coordinator at WANN, introduced the mentoring process, during which writers would spend three months working directly with their assigned mentors.

Cathy Baker, a senior editor at WANN, spoke about how writers will derive immense value from the WANN training program, enriching not only their knowledge of journalism but also expanding their horizons across various fields. 

“Like many WANN alumni, you may use your writing skills in your professional life and for purposeful reasons,” she stated.

Former WANNer Angham Matter wrapped up the session by sharing her success story about her personal experience at WANN. She told the new cohort how WANN helped boost her skills and paved the way for her career.

WANN is a youth-led Palestinian nonprofit project established in 2015 in the Gaza Strip by Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor. It empowers talented Palestinian youth to share their personal stories beyond the numbers shared by mainstream media while also advocating for human rights.