“There’s really no such thing as the ‘voiceless.’ There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.” –Arundhati Roy
When the world talks about Palestinians living under occupation and in refugee camps, it is usually in terms of politics and numbers – specifically, how many killed, injured, homeless and/or dependent on aid.
But numbers are impersonal, and often numbing. What they don’t convey are the daily personal struggles and triumphs, the tears and the laughter, the aspirations that are so universal that if it weren’t for the context, they would immediately resonate with virtually everyone.
That’s why established and aspiring “word artists” from around the world have joined with youth in Gaza, and now, Lebanon, to create We Are Not Numbers. Through this platform, we share and celebrate their stories, with experienced authors mentoring the young writers.
Who We Are We Are Not Numbers (WANN) is a youth-led Palestinian nonprofit project in the Gaza Strip. It tells the stories behind the numbers of Palestinians in the news and advocates for their human rights. WANN was founded and conceived in early 2015 by the American journalist Pam Bailey. The project was brought to fruition by Dr Ramy Abdu, chairman of the board of directors at Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor (Euro-Med Monitor). WANN is registered under the umbrella of Euro-Med and its fiscal sponsor is Nonviolence International, a U.S. organization.
Our Story During the Israeli military attack against Palestinians in the summer of 2014, Ahmed Alnaouq’s 23-year-old brother, Ayman, was killed by an Israeli missile while simply walking on the street near his home in Dir-Al-Balah. Ahmed sunk into depression from which he thought he would never return to normal life again. During this time, he met Pam Bailey, who encouraged him to write his story.
The story resonated with and attracted a great deal of attention from people in the West. As a result, established and aspiring “word artists” from around the world joined with youth in Gaza, and now, West Bank and the diaspora, to create We Are Not Numbers. Through this platform, we share and celebrate the stories, daily personal struggles and triumphs, the tears and the laughter, and the aspirations of Palestinians that are so universal that if it were not for the context, they would immediately resonate with virtually everyone.
The mission of WANN is to create a new generation of Palestinian writers and thinkers who can bring together a profound change to the Palestinian cause to get their voices heard. WANN provides the world with direct access to the Palestinian narrative without any restrictions and without foreign intermediaries speaking on behalf of the Palestinians.
Palestinian voices and narratives, based on peace and respect for human rights, are heard all over the world through peaceful, youth-led Palestinians.