A Muslim Palestinian originally from Gaza, Ms. Besisso, 44, currently lives in Ramallah. Her parents came from well-known families who became refugees after the 48-49 war. Her grandfather often remarked that he felt sorry his grandchildren were raised poor while he had land, home and a business before the war. She is an only child and, as such, it was her parents’ dream that she marry and have a family. She married at 17 and raised 6 children ranging from 26 to 8 years old. She believes it is important to work hard to improve herself and her society. Ms. Besisso has worked for several international and local organizations including: American Friends Service Committee (Quakers), Save the Children USA, Defense for Children International, the Jerusalem Media Communication Center, and others. After earning diplomas from Al Azhar University and Kann’an Educational Development Institute in Gaza, she is working on a B.A. in Social Work from Al Quds Open University. She also earned a technical training certificate in Field Research and Project Coordination from the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky.
Ms. Besisso has spoken to audiences in the U.S. and Europe through Peace x Peace and Joining Hands Against Hunger (a Presbyterian Church initiative). She currently works as Freelance Community Trainer and advocacy activist where her main task is to organize, carry out, train, and evaluate nonviolence training and other advocacy projects. She is also the founder of Women for Justice.
Amal W. Sabawi has more than 15 years of development experience with international organizations. Sabawi is currently the Director of Palestine Youth Program in Gaza, which is supported by American Friends Service Committee in the US. She has an MA in Public Health with a concentration in health management from Al Quds University and a postgraduate certificate in Conflict Resolution Skills from Coventry University.
Sabawi’s areas of interest include youth civic engagement, community development, conflict transformation, nonviolence and humanitarian work. Prior to working with AFSC, Sabawi worked for Save the Children, UNDP, UNRWA and others.
Sabawi is also a renowned trainer in conflict transformation, youth civic engagement, advocacy and community mobilization and community participation. She also participated in a number of researches and assessments on youth needs, women needs and health education programs.
Sameeha Elwan, 26, is an English literature graduate from the Islamic University. She has a Masters Degree in Culture and Difference from Durham University, UK, and is currently a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature and Creative Writing, Murdoch University, Perth, Australia.
“I was born and raised in Gaza City, Palestine. I started blogging in 2010 after the Israeli offensive of 2008-2009, also known as Operation Cast Lead, which was a moment of epiphany. Reflecting on my own personal entrapment in this intensely political situation was the main reason I started my blog. Writing is one of the therapeutic ways we deal with our situation: Our need to understand home and identity. I have also been published on Mondoweiss, openDemocracy and the Electronic Intifada. I am particularly interested in women’s narratives. While working at the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, I was able to document women narratives of the Israeli offensive of November 2012. I was a contributor to “Gaza Writes Back” and to “Remember US,” two publications that are largely driven by bloggers’ narratives. I can be reached on Twitter @Sameeha88, on Facebook at: Sameeha Elwan or via my blog www.sameeha88.wordpress.com.”
“My name is Nahedd Kayyali. I am from Gaza City. I am 26 years old. I have Bachelor’s Degree in Software Development, and I am continuing my higher education towards an MBA. I work as an ICT Program Coordinator in an international NGO that supports university graduates to become more competitive on the job market. My job makes me feel that I have a responsibility to raise my voice and say: Please World WAKE UP! Gazan youth have abilities and skills and they have the right to improve themselves like any youth in the World! We just need the opportunity!”
Dr. Ghada Ageel is a Visiting Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Alberta. She holds a PhD and MA in Middle East Politics from the University of Exeter (Britain) and a BA in Education from the Islamic University/Gaza. Her PhD dissertation examined the historic and contemporary role of the United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) in relation to the question of a durable solution for Palestinian refugees.
Dr. Ageel is the recipient of several awards and scholarships including The Phillips Grant (UK, 2013), The Jerusalem Studies’ Scholarship of the University of Exeter (2002 and 1999), the Higher Education Award of the Ministry of Education (Palestine, 1996) and the Hebrew Language and Literature Scholarship (Gaza, 1993).
Her research interests focus on rights-based approaches to forced migration, Palestinian refugees in comparative perspective, oral history, women’s studies, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the permanent status issues involved in the Middle East peace process. Dr. Ageel’s work has been widely published in several newspapers, magazines and journals worldwide, including The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The International Herald Tribune, The Hill, CNN, BBC, The Guardian, Journal for Palestine Studies, Palestine Chronicle, MATAN Magazine (Hebrew), Occupation Magazine and many Arabic newspapers throughout the Middle East.
In addition to her book with Dr. Ibrahim Abu Jaber, Wisam Afifi, Maisam Eid, et all “Jurh Al-Nakba: Part 1” The Wound of Nakba, Part 1, Um Al-Fahem, Centre of Contemporary Studies, 2003; Dr. Ageel is currently working on a book project: The Palestinian Nakba and Israeli Apartheid : The Law and The Experience. She is also active in Faculty4Palestine—Alberta.
Thoraya El-Rayyes is a writer and literary translator living in Amman, Jordan. She was born in Kuwait to Palestinian parents and immigrated to Canada with her family at the age of six, although she has lived in Jordan for most of her life.
Thoraya’s English language translations of Arabic literature have appeared in various literary magazines, including World Literature Today, Cutbank, The Common, Banipal and Sukoon.
Najla is from Gaza, she works for a humanitarian organisation there. She can be followed on twitter at @whateveringaza.