Re-Humanizing the Syrian Conflict: The Humans of Syria Project
“Marvin Gate” is the alias of one of the founders of the Humans of Syria project. In this interview, we discuss her organization’s efforts to change the world’s perception of ordinary Syrians.
JC: What is Humans of Syria? How did it start?
MG: Humans of Syria is our effort to introduce the world to the people of Syria. It’s a project to document and publish stories from beyond the battle lines, down to the details that make us human. We share stories of daily life, and survival; hardship and hope.
We started as a group of young Syrians who believe that each person matters, and each person has a story. We are not numbers or statistics as the politicians and talking heads consistently portray us. To this day, the mainstream media continues to reduce Syrians to statistics and security threats.
We started this project on March 14th 2015, with a group of professional photographers, editors, coordinators, and designers who believed in this message and volunteered to work on it, and we are not related to any NGO or other organization.
In our first month, we focused on Eastern Ghouta, which has been under siege for more than two years. At the time, no stories were coming out of there, and we wanted to let the world see the human side of the people trapped in Ghouta and how they struggle to live their daily life.
JC: How do you feel the world views Syrians? How is Humans of Syria working to change that?
MG: Sadly, I think that the world see Syrians as numbers and statistics, not as humans who have their own dreams and stories. We are trying our best to change that by showing the human side of the Syrian people and give them the chance to tell their own stories, hopes, and dreams.
JC: In your work, you often show Syrians who have been victims of violence and who are suffering, but you also include other aspects of their life besides their traumatic experiences. Why is this important?
MG: It is very important, because in Syria a lot of people are working so hard to change the situation for the better. Inside Syria, there are not only people who are suffering but also people who are taking great strides to help each other.
They’ve lost a lot, suffered a lot, but still have hope and dreams.
We try to tell stories like the Abu Yassine story as a way to share ideas with people in other cities.
JC: What are Humans of Syria’s goals for the coming year?
MG: We are now working in Eastern Ghouta, Yarmouk camp, Aleppo, Idlib, Daria, and some other areas. Our goal is to report from as many places as possible and to tell the stories about humans of Syria from all over the country. We want to re-humanize the conflict.
JC: For people living in the United States, how can they support your work?
MG: We have already received support and encouragement from a lot of great people all over the world who have shared our stories. People can help by sharing, caring, and writing about these stories, and we are grateful for their support.
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Joseph Caterine is a journalist living in Austin, TX. He is also an organizer with the Syrian People Solidarity Group. You can follow him on Twitter @JosephCaterine