Monday, June 1, 2015

Zaina Erhaim

Zaina Erhaim graduated from the University of Damascus in 2007 and was doing a post-graduate course in London when the Syrian revolution erupted in 2011. She obtained her master’s in international journalism while helping to create the Local Coordination Committee media centres and doing frequent visits to Syria. Then went back to Syria as soon as she could.

“Counting the martyrs and barrel bombs was easy” but surviving was a permanent challenge as she roamed the liberated areas amid air-strikes and bombardments and tried to document life, to describe “shop-keepers who continue to sell their fruit and vegetables in the ruins of a bombed building (...) children who play amid the graves after school.”

“Lending my eyes to the world so that it sees what I see” was complicated and was not enough. She had to do more. As a journalist, she decided to help those who are now virtually the only source of news coverage on the ground in Syria – citizen-journalists. In 2013, she became a trainer so that the photos, video footage and reports they were risking their lives to produce would be taken seriously and broadcast internationally.

For the past two years, she has been teaching citizen-journalists in Aleppo, Raqqa, Deir Ezzor and Idlib how to construct media reports and has been helping them to get published. “Some of them now work for international media. It’s very satisfying to learn that an activist has found a job in a TV station.”

She transmits her passion as well as her know-how. Armed with cameras and notebooks, these men and women follow her lead in ripping aside the veil of violence in order to shed light on an alternative Syria in which “people love, get married, have friends, have children (...) an admirable people fighting for its future.” The future Syria that shines in her eyes.

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