GIVING YOUTH A VOICE
We Are Not Numbers is a storytelling project launched by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor in February, 2015. The project brings budding young writers from different countries, including the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey, who write in English, and provides them with workshops on writing stories and articles, social media, and how to approach a western audience.
The goals of the project are to:
1) Help develop the language and writing skills youth need to obtain good jobs and earn internships or scholarships.
2) Nurture self-esteem through the publication of their work.
3) Foster international connections that will broaden participants’ world views, lessen the feeling of isolation and provide useful references when applying for internships and scholarships.
4) Provide a supportive creative outlet and environment in which participants build capacities in leadership, teamwork, critical thinking and advocacy.
5) Amplify their voices to help educate the Western world on the realities of life under occupation and as refugees.
Mentors help our writers with brainstorming and editing, while bringing an international perspective to the table.
Who Are These Mentors?
Mentors are journalists, book authors, communications professionals and bloggersfrom English-speaking countries around the world. Some are Palestinians, such as Susan Abulhawa (author of “Mornings in Jenin”) and Leila El-Haddad (author of “Gaza Kitchen”). Some are Jewish Americans, such as Miko Peled (author of “The General’s Son”) and Alice Rothchild (physician and author of “Broken Promises, Broken Dream”). Some are journalists (such as Ben Norton from Salon) and others are even comedians (Amer Zahr, author of “Being Palestinian Makes Me Smile”).
Our mission, as implied by the title, is to transform the preconceived misconception of victims of armed conflicts, by western audiences. The goal is to show them that these victims share the same human stories and talents behind the numbers often shown in the news, and show that Palestinians too are humans with personal stories, feelings, lives, dreams, and hopes.
We Are Not Numbers recruit a group of developing writers each year and provide them with workshops dealing with creative writing, social media, journalistic writing and how to approach western society. These workshops are given by trainers who are either professional writers based in the Strip or international journalists and authors visiting the Strip; many of which are themselves mentors in the program.
The stories and articles written by the writers are edited by the international mentors and then posted on wearenotnumbers.org. The project managed to cooperate with many international publications like Huffpost, Arab America, Codepink and Mondowiess. These publications help promote youth stories.
We Are Not Numbers offers both written forms of expressing youth thoughts and video production and drama. The project is also working on publishing its own book—a collection of the best stories published by the project's writers.
To date, WANN has involved 171 youth as writers and 130 mentors. WANN has posted nearly 400 stories and has recruited three re-publication partners. On social media, the Facebook page currently has more than 22,000 fans, more than 3,000 Instagram followers and in excess of 2,000 Twitter fans.
Most recently, the project has won a $20,000 grant from the American Consulate to establish the first-of-its kind English journalism academy in Gaza.
Since the launching of the project under the umbrella of Euro Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, We Are Not Numbers has been successfully transitioning into an independent think tank of its own, continuing with projects and growing on a consistent basis to tell the human stories of the individuals, rather than numbers, living under the thrones of war.