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Life in six words

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I am the founder and director of  We Are Not Numbers, a storytelling project for Palestinian youth in the occupied territories and refugee camps. One of the practice exercises recently was to write a story in just six words, reflecting one aspect of life in Gaza or Lebanon (wherever they live).  Participants loved it so much that many wrote more than one! Below, I share some of the results–six-word glimpses into the inner life and thoughts of refugees.

Gaza reality – Heba Zaher

  1. “Let’s study.” The power went out.
  2. For sale: Gazan passport, never used.
  3. They killed her; something changed: numbers.
  4. She decides to rot in bed.

Holocaust to Palestine – Ghada Al-Haddad

  1. Expelled from Europe; holocaust in Palestine.
  2. Kills Palestinians; yet he’s called “hero.”
  3. War. Ceasefire. War. Ceasefire. Pause. Fire.
  4. Stray shrapnel hits, now paralyzed forever.
  5. War has ended, but trauma hasn’t.

In the caravan – Basman Derawi
As described in a recent story, many Gaza families are still homeless following the 2014 Israeli assault and are living in caravans, or trailers.

  1. Only three: me, darkness and cold.
  2. Given a blanket; still not warm.
  3. Miss my old, broken-roof home.
  4. Lamp light: two hours until power.
  5. Waking up: the only work available.

Resistance – Ghada Ahmed

  1. He pointed his gun; she smiled.
  2. The right to belong—a reason to die
  3. The child’s no longer a child.
  4. The story of their home, now ashes.
  5. Mother’s eyes: gloom, but light remains.

Simple math — Yasmin Hillis

  1. Their dad left, in a coffin.
  2. An air strike; no one left.

Refugee forever – Huda Dawood

  1. Syrians too? Palestinians are enough.
  2. Live in camps; just no tents.
  3. Qualified for the job, but Palestinian.
  4. Have an opinion? Not your country!

Women struggle for justice — Duaa Ardat

  1. Colorful clothing doesn’t mean vivid life.
  2. Gender-based violence stole her femininity.
  3. Peace is not absence of war.
  4. And then we faded into oblivion.
Pam Bailey

Pam Bailey is founder of and international secretary for the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor. She is based in Washington, DC, and travels to the Middle East frequently.

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6 Responses

  1. eljay on December 14, 2016, 9:58 am

    Well done (even those over six). :-)

    • Pam on December 14, 2016, 6:30 pm

      Eljay…You are quite right… two of them are one word too long and they slipped through! Glad you read them so carefully. That means a lot.

  2. Maghlawatan on December 14, 2016, 12:32 pm

    Palestinian potential is huge. They just need to get over the Zionist phase

  3. Citizen on December 14, 2016, 4:25 pm

    I can barely manage a comfortable life after 70, I don’t know how the Palestinians do it. I sent the info to Ivanka Trump on Twitter

  4. Helena Cobban on December 14, 2016, 7:00 pm

    Probably say more in six kalimat arabiyya?

  5. Elizabeth Block on December 15, 2016, 3:23 pm

    People do recognize the allusion? There’s a legend – according to Snopes, not true – that Hemingway won a bet by writing a story in six words: “For sale – baby shoes, never worn.”
    Good story, or rather stories – the six words, and the legend.

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