Trending Topics:

‘We Are Not Numbers’ shares the daily struggles and triumphs of Palestinian life

on 4 Comments

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.

We Are Not Numbers

Photo: We Are Not Numbers

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.

Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

Other posts by .

Posted In:

4 Responses

  1. Pam on July 2, 2016, 9:45 am

    All of the writers in We Are Not Numbers were thrilled to read this. Skyping with Phil Weiss was one of the most popular talks we’ve had, and we hope he and Adam will continue to be involved. Thank from all of us for being the project’s guardian angels.

    • annie on July 2, 2016, 10:27 am

      pam, as usual when i visit we are not numbers site, i read around a dozen articles(at least) the other day. what can i say, there were times i cried (photos of rawan’s father — the yellow boat and his hands lifted her)and times i smiled too (ghazala swimming naked in the river!) and moments it was hard to imagine how a thought so simple could cut like a dagger (future me, have you seen life outside gaza?). also, i loved your story about anas and that photo of him holding the turkey w/that priceless expression on his face (is that him to your left in the photo above?)and of course i had to google a qatayef and read about them wishing i could taste one from a master batter maker! it’s the sort of site i could read for hours and hours every time i visit, and sometimes do. i remember once reading about the brother and sister singing and loved the songs and her voice — and then i couldn’t find them again, i forgot their names. anyway, just a wonderful site. ahmed’s brother — the stories are really moving. i had so many notes this time the draft was getting lost in them and it was not easy to choose a few quotes for a simple theme here, because i could have gone on and on. thanks for everything.

      • echinococcus on July 2, 2016, 8:09 pm


        Thanksalot for the discovery. It’s just as you say. Couldn’t start doing the day’s chores before finishing reading.

    • jd65 on July 3, 2016, 5:57 pm

      Hey Pam. Your mentioning the skype w/ Phil reminded me of a skype event our Interfaith Peace-Builders delegation had w/ a youth group from Gaza last year. I would respectfully suggest, if you have not done so already, contacting this organization (IFPB; specifically Jacob Pace), to see if you could coordinate an event w/ one of their upcoming delegations. They are an excellent organization, truly dedicated to promoting the welfare of Palestinians, and a broader awareness of the injustices they are subject to on a daily basis. I believe some of the previous IFPB delegations have entered Gaza, but as you know this is not always an option for various reasons. Whether you can organize with them or not, I’m certain they’d be happy to hear from you and the writers you have listed on your organization’s website. Best of luck and thanks for your work. From what I can tell/see from this article and your website, it looks like what you’re doing is worthwhile (understatement…).

Leave a Reply