Our dear Ahel community,
We wish you a healthy and hopeful new year. We write to you to share our 2021 annual report. Below is a summary to encourage you to read it.
Compared to many, we at Ahel see a different perspective of the Arab world.
We see the region through the eyes of those who pursue collective action for dignity and justice. The people who cross paths with Ahel have hope for change and faith in people power. Otherwise, they would not have resorted to us to grow their leadership and enhance their organising of collective action. From Yemen and Iraq to Morocco and Mauritania, there are hundreds of stories of people’s campaigns and movements building power and demanding change and often succeeding in their pursuit. This reality exists, even if it is not center stage in the media and the prevailing discourse. True, the systems of injustice and oppression are still strong, but this reality is present and significant. We want you to know about it.
These are examples of civic social and political campaigns that crossed our path. There are also many examples of outstanding leaders who were part of our learning programs. Take the leader against administrative detention in Yemen who two years ago managed to get some administrative detainees freed and continues to bring more out of prison. Take that women labor rights leader working for teachers’ pay in Jordan and for garment workers in Egypt. Also that leader fighting for freedom of expression and gender in Morocco. Our online course titled “Leading and Organising Collective Action for Change” in its third year brought together 81 leaders from the Arab world. Our in person “Feminism and Community Orgnaizing” course introduced us to 25 women all younger than 35 years, who see their struggle not only against the oppression of women, but against the patriarchal and capitalist systems and any oppression over any life.
Some say that these organising efforts, campaigns, and leaders are small unconnected stars floating in a dark space. To some extent that’s true. Therefore, we focused our last year on connecting them with each other for solidarity and for resilience so that they can shine stronger together. We nurtured the Athar Network for Community Organizers in the Arab World. A network of nearly 100 leaders. Although not yet two years old, it focuses on continued learning of its members, solidarity between their causes, and protection of the reality they create and the hope they cherish.
Last year was a special year for Ahel.
We conclude by saying that in the past we were not eager about promoting our work and left space for the campaigns and leaders we accompanied to tell about their successes and how Ahel contributed to it. However, out of responsibility towards those who are seeking change and struggling with challenges, we changed our approach. They should know about community organising and its practices and that Ahel can accompany their journey. Thus we invested in our relationship with the media, activated our social media platforms, relaunched our website and produced visuals on organizing, campaigning and shared leadership. Season one of our Athar Podcast tells success stories of people-led social and political campaigns in the Arab world.
We are ready to introduce you, your organization, community, school or union to the practice of community organizing. We will show you examples of how it succeeded in restoring power and leadership to people as they demand and introduce change. Please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wishing you a new year that brings with it health and justice,
Nisreen Haj Ahmad and the Ahel team