We can’t say enough great stuff about We Are Not Numbers. A project sponsored by Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, with more than 75 writers from Gaza including 5 Palestinian refugees from Lebanon (and an equal number of mentors including luminaries such as Susan Abulhawa, Leila El-Haddad, Miko Peled, Alice Rothchild, Ben Norton and Joe Catron), We Are Not Numbers mission is to strategically spread the word on social media about the daily struggles and triumphs of Palestinian life in personal ways through stories western readers can relate to — because their “aspirations that are so universal that if it weren’t for the context, they would immediately resonate with virtually everyone.”
If you want to understand what they do, read Basam Dewari’s recent article, mentored by Joe Catron. He opens asking us “Do you love Gaza? Or do you hate Gaza?“. Dewari says it breaks his heart listening to people on the radio who live in trailers because their homes were destroyed by Israel; “Help! It’s an oven inside”:
Gaza has few jobs and no clear future except poverty. I understand why some risk dangerous sea voyages to escape, while others commit suicide. We are all human and humans have breaking points. I just don’t know what mine is yet.
Think about that knowing temperatures in Palestine soared to record breaking heights in June. Or read Mosab Abu Toha from Beach Camp, 24 hot hours:
Later, as I write these words, the ink of my pen is smearing as the sweat from my face drips onto the paper. I wash my face with the water we keep in the fridge, but the bottles are getting warmer and warmer due to the electricity shortage. When the nights come, the fans and lights won’t switch on, even to read a novel for a bit of escape. I go up to sit on the roof; if I am lucky, the moon will light my pages. If not, I will use my mobile phone’s flashlight (assuming the battery is charged).
If all else fails, I will try to sleep, hoping to wake up to a better reality—or at least have nice dreams.
(Abu Toha’s excellent Working without pay describing the intricacies of why some Gazans get paid not to work while others work for sporadic pay depending on the whims of the PA/Fatah/Israel, got picked up by Middle East Eye.)
Seeking a fresh infusion of funds to expand the project, Founder and International director Pam Bailey tells the story of how We Are Not Numbers was born in their fundraising appeal. Bailey describes how she met a depressed Ahmed Alnaouq on Facebook after his brother was murdered by Israel. Alnaouq, 21, is now We Are Not Numbers-Gaza project manager. It’s a sad yet ultimately inspiring story.
Please check out their appeal and video, a “proclamation of Palestinian youth from Gaza – desperate and proud at the same time” — and give them a boost to carry on their important work.