2014 has been a game changing year in the Middle East. And at Barakabits, we have seen incredible things happen; so here are the team’s 10 reasons this year was amazing.

1) Because refugees from Yarmouk taught us that surviving a siege starts with a piano. BarakaBits’ Communications manager Nawara Chakaki chose it because “it shows how anyone in any circumstance can make a difference.”

2) Because this Iranian teacher shaved his head for a reason we did not expect. “I was moved by how such a simple act of kindness on the part of a teacher could become so life changing for this little boy,” says BarakaBits writer Shirin Wertime.

3) Because power cuts couldn’t stop homework in Gaza. Sami Haven, BarakaBits’ photographer chose it because “it gives hope and shows us how to overcome obstacles; and because education is the only weapon capable of defining injustice”.

4) Because we Will Never Think Of Damascus the Same Way After Watching This Documentary. “Since I was a child I was fascinated by the old city and my grandparents’ stories. Once i saw the video, it brought me back to those good memories,” says Operations Manager Majd Khanji.

5) Because we discovered there is actually Arab opera. And it can be more beautiful than anything heard before.  “Seeing a such a great local talent is something I wish I knew about earlier,” says writer Sadad Talhouni.

6) Because of this boy’s smile. “It proved to me that despite challenges in life, maintaining a hopeful, positive outlook changes everything,” says English Editor Lena Kassicieh.

7) Because this song went viral and helped the world focus for a week. “The ending ‘I will see you safe and prosperous and triumphant and dignified’ was such a powerful positive and optimistic message –which is what we are trying to spread at Barakabits!,” agree writer Mohammad A Alfaraj and PR strategist Karim Mardam-Bey.

8) Because parenting advice gained a whole new meaning when we heard Gaza moms. “This is exactly what BarakaBits does — finding the good news in a sea of bad,” says Baraka Advisors’ Lakshmy Nair.

9) Because as bombs fell over Gaza, a 13-year-old girl explained what nobody could understandand became the world’s most acknowledged reporter, writers Jennifer McKenzie and Valentina Primo agree.

10) Because these young Gazans showed that peace and art can be the most graceful form of resistance. “With those parkouring photos, we were able to show beauty in Gaza for the first time,” says BarakaBits’ founder, Rama Chakaki.

Did these stories inspire you? Help us report on more positive stories from the Middle East by donating 1USD to our crowdfunding campaign. You can make a difference! 

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Valentina Primo

Journalist, globetrotter, and determined idealist. Since Valentina left her home country of Argentina, she has searched for ways to build bridges between cultures and foster dialogue. Her previous work in international organizations in Italy and Germany fed her passion for the world of development, while her 8-year journalistic experience in Argentina and Egypt increased her curiosity for everything that challenges the stereotype. She holds a BA in Journalism and a Masters in Peace Studies with a specialization in Human Rights.

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