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Stories are told by survivors
January 30, 2017
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“Stories are told by survivors” — Neil Gaiman

As women in an area of conflict, sharing our stories is more important than it ever was. Because somewhere out there, someone needs that story. Someone with that story will be a complete different person. That story may give them hope, or comfort, or the sheer sensation of not being alone.

In Project Sliphium we aim to do that through blogging, snapchatting and use of social media. Teaching women how to make use of these tools to take control over their lives and futures and to remind everyone that we’re here and we have something to say too.

As a social innovation , we started to think of workshops we can do on our own.
The question was, what can we teach women ?

I thought LaTeX!

When I started writing my scientific papers and reports, I came across this magical software known as LaTeX.
LaTeX is widely used in writing scientific research and papers (and it’s so so much better than Word).
To be honest, I was fascinated by LaTeX and I welcomed the challenge of learning it.

In the end, my echoing shouts and breakdowns at the laptop screen, wondering why PDF wasn’t generating correctly or merely waiting for certain packages to download ( with the seriously dying internet ) paid off.

My projects looked beautiful!

During this excitement of learning something as fun and useful as LaTeX, I thought why not teach other women how to use this miraculous software? And that’s how we ended setting up a LaTeX workshop for first time ever here in Benghazi.

We used the same method we used in Tripoli to set up WordPress workshop, I contacted Tatweer Research and they welcomed the idea.

Attendance was a mix of all ages and genders. We had engineers, university professors, pharmacists and employees from Tatweer Research itself.

Considering the current war going on in the city, I was baffled by their hope and will to learn and I was proud to be a part of this city and help in anyway I can.

Setting up this workshop, regardless of my current situation as an internally displaced person, living in a war zone for almost two years now. Heck studying Engineering in an elementary school with blackouts and fighter jets flying around, made me realize my full potential and what I’m capable of regardless of the situation.

The thing is, it’s not just me. I see this on a deep and profound level every day, in every corner, in my parents, my sisters, my friends and every single person standing in bank or bakery lines. Suffering through traffic and blocked roads to get basic life chores done. I see in them hope that can defeat dragons.

Letting the world see this felt like something that has to be done!

Snapchat for Libyan women to use to share their daily lives seemed like the way to go.
Our first Libyan woman to use the account was Nessren Gaddah, she took us for tours throughout Tripoli to buy fabric for her garden setting and shared mouth watering Libyan food dishes.
Nessren recently launched her startup Noon for Translation.

We used #womeninlibya to cover LaTeX workshop and reactions were overwhelming.

Next we traveled all the way to Jordan with Najla Al-Missalati, an engineer living and working in Benghazi to attend a workshop on Artificial Limbs, a project she’s been working on with team of engineers for Tatweer Research.

After coverage for Jusoor discussion on women in workforce taken place in Tripoli, #womeninlibya went back to Benghazi, with Nahla Boushnaf, a Libyan Blogger , english teacher and pharmacist to be.

#womeninlibya brought out all of these amazing women and we’re sure there are still many more amazing Libyan women to be featured in upcoming days.

Writtenby: Hajer Elmahdi

orginially posted on medium 

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