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A Personal Conflict: Web 2.0 in a War Zone

It is 3 am. I am 7 months pregnant and bone weary. My four year old son and I lie on the bed, fully clothed, shoes on, our muscles tensed like runners at a starting block.

Wooooooooooo. The bomb siren rips through the night. I grab my son, wrap his legs around my belly, and run. In the deep hours of darkness, my small house becomes a labyrinth. I wrench open the door and sprint across the graveled sand. My knees are buckling but my son’s body, pressed against his brother’s inside, pulls me forward: a reminder of how little time we have.

We throw ourselves into the waiting staircase, which is pressed full with wide-eyed children. We are the last to arrive before the siren wanes. The lights in the staircase, automatically timed, click off and someone gasps. We count the seconds. My son grips my hand.

BAM. BAM BAM BAM. The explosions are close, very close. We smell burning but can’t tell from the inside whether the bombs land near us or whether the sounds and smells are from the Iron Dome, a missile defense system that cloaks us overhead.

The babies muffle against their mothers’ shirts. Shoes scuffle. The night is cold and some wear only pajamas’ light cloth against their goosebumped skin. After a few minutes, each family rises to return home. I stroke my son’s face and make sure he is okay and we return to the bed to await the next round.

The first thing I do once we are settled is to check the internet. Social media is my sanity. No one is sleeping tonight in southern Israel. The messages come in from friends around the city. “Everyone okay?” From there I cast the net wider. I check with a Bedouin friend in nearby Rahat and a colleague who lives on a kibbutz whom I know will update. I leave the personal connections of Facebook and drift to Twitter, updating my status as a personal mark in our regional and national record books. I check the hashtags: #StopTheRockets, #IsraelUnderFire, #PillarOfDefense, #GazaUnderAttack.

In the war zone, I rely on Web 2.0 for human connections. It enables me to reach beyond geopolitical boundaries, cultural and national constraints. It is because I read the Twitter reports coming in from Gaza that in those silent, cold moments on the stairway, I think of the mothers and children who don’t have anywhere to run when their sirens sound.

My computer is my voice and with it I proclaim, “Not in my name.” It is my dream and my goal to use Web 2.0 to become a creative force in forming a community of listeners in Israel, Palestine, and beyond who, when they hear their national news, think of their sisters and brothers across the borders, and use social media to extend webs of kindness and caring into the world.

Comments

Mukut's picture

Salute to you!

Your story touched my heart. Thanks to web 2.0 and to courageous women like you living in conflict zones, that come out and talk and tell their stories to us. I could never imagine the situation that you face there, the insecurity and the horror but still you managed to write and speak up for it. That is so brave of you.

Do take care of yourself and your precious family. My prayers are with you and all others who are right now living in such dire consequences. My heart goes out to you. Bless you my sister.

Love and blessings,

Mukut Ray

Maya Norton's picture

Mukut

Thank you so much, Mukut. I truly appreciate it.

I have seen other comments you've posted for VOF sisters and you have a lovely style of connecting.

Love and blessings back to you,

~ Maya

Rebecca R's picture

What a story.

Maya,

I read this on my phone a couple of hours ago and when I finally got a chance to log onto a computer, I kept remembering "I need to read Maya's post again and again". I was supposed to submit work on my email but that took a back seat. Because this was such a powerful story. You manage to capture the networking element of Web 2.0 and its ability to reach out to us as well as keep us informed.

-Becky

Maya Norton's picture

Becky

Thank you, Becky. That's such a nice compliment. You've touched this writer's heart. Isn't that the best feeling when you come across a piece that you really connect with? I'm grateful to be a new participant on WorldPulse where I'm finding posts like that every day.

Look forward to connecting,

~ Maya

Jill Dulitsky's picture

Thank you

Dear Maya,

Thank you so much for sharing your voice! While I have never had the personal experience you have had, you described it with so much detail that I felt like I was there. As a mom of a 7 and 9 year old, I can't imagine the fear. Keep sharing because we're hear to listen, share and fight for women's rights.

Kindly, Jill

Maya Norton's picture

Jill

Well my workaholic, "recovering over-achiever" friend, it sounds like we have a lot in common (http://worldpulse.com/user/16425). You may have to teach me your ways. I want to read more about your trip to Haiti.

As a break from your leadership books, I recommend Eric Weiner's "Geography of Bliss," (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/30/books/review/Paul-t.html?_r=0) in which he travels across the world to the globe's happiest and least happy countries trying to find out what drives them.

Thank you very much for your comments, Jill.

~ Maya

Tait's picture

Your Voice

I really don't know what to say. I cannot imagine having to go through what you and your community had to endure in just one night. I admire your willingness to share your life with us. Continue to share your voice!!!

Maya Norton's picture

Tait

Thanks for your comment, Tait. On this particular night there were many rounds of bombings, but the "situation," as we call it here, went on for several days overall this time.

I have a passion for community development as well (http://worldpulse.com/node/62969). Where does yours take you? Look forward to reading more, lady. Get to writing. :)

~ Maya

Tait's picture

Maya, You are right! I have

Maya,

You are right! I have been slacking in the writing department, but I also feel confused on what to share. For example, I don't worry about "situations" when I close my eyes at night.

Currently, I mentor middle school aged girls but I am looking for opportunities abroad now in the community development field because I'm ready to explore and learn what other communities are doing so that I can help to implement them wherever I am needed.

Tait

Maya Norton's picture

Youth Empowerment

Tait, let me think. Oh, I know. THIS is exactly what you should write: http://worldpulse.com/node/70244. Keep going!

Middle school girls are such a great source for good stories as their imaginations are so active and there is so much energy at that age. The girl in this story was 12 at time of writing: http://worldpulse.com/node/68954. It's an extreme example, the one I felt could best fit that particular assignment, but this girl and others that I worked with during that period made such a big impression on me. I'll bet if you let your mind stretch that there are so many things you could write about there. I, for one, would love to read them. You have so much to offer.

In friendship and support,

~ Maya

Abisinuola's picture

your selflessness

Its very brave what you do,and its even more selfless that in the face of real terror,u still think of others when normally you would just want to ensure that you and your son are safe.
Welldone,your voice is being heard.
My prayers are with you and your country,may peace reign.amen.

Abisinuola

Maya Norton's picture

Abisinoula

Dear Beezy,

Can I call you that? What an upbeat spirit and beautiful smile you have. From your latest post, "Mirror, Mirror" to more serious topics, I am really enjoying your writing. Keep going, sister woman.

Thank you too for sending love. We feel your prayers.

~ Maya

Abisinuola's picture

smiles

Pls call me beezy....thank you so much dear sis for taking time to go through my journal.
I'm glad things are getting better over there.
Victory is sure,
Peace will reign.
Love

Abisinuola

Maya Norton's picture

I enjoyed your journal very

I enjoyed your journal very much.

Peace will reign: believe it to conceive it.

~ Maya

Precious M's picture

Maya! Maya!!

I can imagine what you have to put up with everyday, living in a war zone. You are a strong woman. Caring for a child outside and a child inside while coping with war is not a piece of cake. It is a good thing you can still access the internet from there. Hold on to your Web 2.0. Like you said, social media is your sanity. Keep being strong.

Love from Precious

My pen speaks

Maya Norton's picture

Hello dear Precious, the name

Hello dear Precious, the name that I call my sons. I think it is only a matter of time until we are seeing your writing everywhere. You are a woman on her way up. How powerful that speaking pen of yours is.

Thank you for you comments and moreover for the powerful pieces you are bringing to WorldPulse. I'll be reading.

~ Maya

Aminah's picture

spellbound

I can never even start to imagine what life out there is like.
My heart goes out to you and everyone in your community.
It must be so very difficult on everyone psych.

Thanks to the internet and web 2.0 tools like this platform that you are able to share your story and we are able to listen on and empathize with you. And we can hope that through a united front we can bring these kinds of news to the people in power hoping for a positive change.

I can never understand why people have a need for war, for attacks, for guns, for violence.
But yes it is there and we need to work together.

Strength to you and your family and friends.

Regards
Aminah

Salaam
Aminah

Maya Norton's picture

Aminah

Hello dear Aminah,

Thank you for your warm comments. It is indeed difficult for everyone to deal with, although people handle stress in different ways.

Is Aminah ("peaceful") your real name or one you have chosen for WorldPulse? It seems to suit you so well.

I've just read your "Pied Piper" entry on the recent elections in the Maldives. I hope you'll not mind me saying that the Maldives are a country I should certainly learn more about. I just visited this article and wonder if as a spirited woman with a strong voice you feel safe? It had me a bit worried (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maldives#Human_rights), but I know that things tend to look different from the outsider's perspective.

Strength back to your friends and family as well.
Allah yasalmik,

~ Maya

Yes Maya. My name is indeed Aminah. I love my mother for naming me Aminah whereby she passed on her courage and strength, patience and kindness and yes peace. Even if I say so, I have to say that I deserving of this name.

My inner turmoil is a totally different story. I haven't had the courage to share all of it with anyone as I am the rock, I am the solid ground, I am the invincible, courageous, educated, intelligent, and caring person. I am the peacemaker, I am the diplomat. So yes my name is who I am, no matter what atrocities I have live through.

As for out country and its situation - it saddens me. I am deeply patriotic and believe in modernity as well as our Muslim faith. there is so much going on the societal and communal and political arena, that everything gets twisted out of context. It will take some time for democracy to really sink in.

As for the human rights case. Unfortunately they are all true. Totally absurd that the rape victim was charged with fornication just because she agreed to having had sex with her step father. What the authorities failed to note was that she had been a victim of sexual abuse. Some people use religious card very unwisely and some are using religion for political gains. Us Maldivians are very devoted Muslims, in the sense that the country has been a 100% Muslim country for over 900 years now. But as in any part of the world, there are people wanting not to be associated with the religion they were born into. I strongly believe religion is a deeply personal thing and that we have to choose it on our own - not be forced on us. Having said that, I believe Muslim faith is a truly peaceful one and quite succinctly explains the essence of human beings, science, and creations. No offense to any other religions.

My point is that, the freedom to choose is taken away and that in essence creates dis-harmonic waves - especially among the new generation who are born into this networked world of cable tv and internet at their fingertips.

So yes, we are going through turbulent times. But I should confess that media makes a lot more noise and adds some distortions in its wake.

Thank you for taking the effort to knowing about the Maldives.
Keep writing your wonderful stuff.

Regards
Aminah

Salaam
Aminah

Stacey Rozen's picture

Heartfelt

Maya, it almost felt as if we were with you.

Thank you for sharing what must have been an experience forever to be embedded in your memory, and now in ours too.

Light, love and strength always.

Creatively,
Stacey

Maya Norton's picture

Stacey

That's a great comment for a writer to hear, Stacey, although I'm very glad you weren't with me at the time.

So tell me more about StoryScarves. It's a great name; you have me interested.

Did you like my poem? Yours was so much fun. (http://worldpulse.com/node/68649)

Weavers we are and weavers we shall be. I'll be reading.

~ Maya

Stacey Rozen's picture

Understanding

I was in Israel during the gulf war. Fear is not an easy feeling to live with. I admire your wisdom, strength and amazing ability to write so fluidly, Maya.

In my latest Week 3 post, you may learn more about the story of scarves.

I'm hooked and will keep on reading!

Creatively,
Stacey

Maya Norton's picture

I was lucky that this piece

I was lucky that this piece flowed out of me. That's the best feeling as a writer.

Your Week Three piece was enjoyable and engaging, as I wrote in the comment (enjoyable is not quite the right word given the content you touched upon, but I think you know what I mean). I hope you'll write more about it.

What were you doing in Israel at that time?

~ Maya

Dear Maya

what a story you wrote and how well you set the scene, I could completely feel the situation growing up myself in war.

I would have loved to read more about your ideas and Web 2.0, I would like to know in more details how you think Web 2.0 would empower women, you wrote that you want to create a community of "listeners" in Israel and Palestine and beyond. But why just "listeners"? or what do you exactly mean by "listeners"? Could you please elaborate on that a bit more?

I think it's beautiful that you wrote: "In the war zone, I rely on Web 2.0 for human connections.", since there are arguments claiming that web has made the connections between people unreal and superficial, what you wrote is absolutely the contrary and I agree with you.

keep writing friend

best
Somaye

Maya Norton's picture

Somaye

Dear Somaye,

I'm dropping you a note to let you know that I haven't forgotten your comment. Thank you for asking tough questions. I'm thinking about them and will get back to you.

I know you said you live in the Netherlands now. Where did you grow up?

In friendship,

~ Maya

Greengirl's picture

Dear Maya

Your writing revealed your person! You are a strong woman, with a unique and resounding voice. You so much brought the situation around you to reality, and I felt like I was watching all that transpired in real time. Be strong! May your prayers for a kind and caring world be heard.

Thank you for revealing to us all how powerful a tool Web 2.0 is. God bless you!

Greengirl.

Maya Norton's picture

GreenGirl

Thanks so much, Green Lady. I appreciate your kind words and prayers.

Your own work is inspiring. I'm glad to have found a source for reading more about women and the environment. Can you direct me to the web address of the Women's Initiative for Sustainable Environment (WISE)? I didn't see it on Google and would like to visit you there. Maybe it has a parent site within a larger organization?

What a beautiful woman your mother was. I am glad to have read your tribute to strong women everywhere in her honor (http://worldpulse.com/node/68283). In Judaism there is a traditional prayer that a husband sings to his wife that is called "A Woman of Valor." That name reminded me of your writing about your mom. Here is an interpretation that you might connect with: http://www.chabad.org/theJewishWoman/article_cdo/aid/523241/jewish/A-Wom.... If you're interested, here is the original song, which is meant to be sung in praise every Friday night: http://www.aish.com/sh/ht/fn/48966686.html.

Warm wishes,

~ Maya

Greengirl's picture

Thank you so much Maya

I am touched by the fact that you could still spare time to learn more about me even in the mist of the conflict around you. Your words wield so much influence and I feel very connected to you. Thank you for all you said about me, my mum and my work. With people like you around me, I just want to do more.

As for the website, it is www.wisenigeria.org. You could type it directly onto the web browser space or search for it using google. My laptop battery is running out and there is power outage at the moment. I will be in touch.

Greengirl

Maya Norton's picture

Thanks, GreenGirl, I can't

Thanks, GreenGirl, I can't wait to take a look. I'm so glad we could get to know each other and look forward to more to come.

Warm wishes,

~ Maya

GreenGirl, did you see that the Nobel Women's Initiative is quoting you on Facebook? They didn't link directly, so I wasn't sure what journal entry it was from, but here's what it said (I assume you know about this, but just in case):

"The search for peace may, however, remain vague if women who are the real victims and the most vulnerable to acts of war remain excluded from the processes of mediation, resolution, reconciliation and peace building."

- "Greengirl," Nigeria, member of World Pulse, an action media network powered by women from 190 countries

www.facebook.com/nobelwomen/posts/10151569914236737

Greengirl's picture

Wow, Maya!

I didn't know about it. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

Now I am singing all the way!

Greengirl

I think they should have told you. :) It's a major honor. I just happened to see it today as I was strolling through the web, seeing what I had missed since Friday evening.

Congratulations - and sing loudly. You deserve it.

What's the direct link, please?

~ Maya

Greengirl's picture

Thank you so much

Thanks Maya, I still feel honoured all the same. It's nice to know that you are interested in the whole article. The direct link is http://worldpulse.com/node/58746.

You are a sister and friend in need, indeed and in deed!

Greengirl

Maya Norton's picture

Thanks, GG. Off to read it

Thanks, GG. Off to read it now.

~ Maya

libudsuroy's picture

on the Other Bank

Dear Maya,
Just a note to let you know that I have shared your story with my friends via FB. Having lived for a few months in a village in the West Bank as a volunteer human rights monitor, I know how it is behind the tall Separation Walls.Your story tells me how it is on the Other Bank. And how digital communication tools can break the barriers.
Keep well, sister!

Blessings,
libudsuroy/Lina Sagaral Reyes
Mindanao, The Philippines

''Every Day is a Journey and the Journey itself is Home.'' (Matsuo Basho)

Maya Norton's picture

Libudsuroy

Sorry, can't talk now. I'm downloading all the books on this site on women, peacebuilding, and peace journalism - a term I hadn't heard before - that you recommended. See you in two months after I finish reading them all. (http://worldpulse.com/pulsewire/exchange/post/68354; http://www.isiswomen.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=89...).

With regard to the human rights monitoring in the West Bank, you must tell me more. With which organization did you go and when? Where were you exactly? Were you writing about it at the time? I'd appreciate links or if you could e-mail me your thoughts if you have journaling that is not currently available online.

With regard to linking to my story, what did you friends on Facebook say? If there were any questions, I'd be happy to respond, if you'd like.

Warm wishes and blessings back to you,

~ Maya

libudsuroy's picture

Hello, Maya, I have sent you

Hello, Maya,
I have sent you a note earlier as a reply to some of your questions. Your story garnered 12 likes on my FB page but no questions nor comments. My Palestinian friends , I guess, are busy with preparations for the coming elections. Somehow, the fact that they are holding another elections gives hope, doesn't it? We can only hope the democratic exercise contributes to peace building and conflict resolution on the ground.

Blessings,
libudsuroy/Lina Sagaral Reyes
Mindanao, The Philippines

''Every Day is a Journey and the Journey itself is Home.'' (Matsuo Basho)

Nakinti's picture

Oh girl!

My dear dear Maaa-yaaa (tears dropping from my eyes),
huhhhhh! I am short of words!
I'll keep my comments for next time, but right this moment, I will say keep your spirit strong.
Lots and lots of love from Cameroon.

Nakinti B. Nofuru
2013 VOF Correspondent
Reporter for Global Press Institute
Bamenda - Cameroon
Email: nakinti@globalpressinstitute.org
nakintin@yahoo.com

Maya Norton's picture

Nakiiiiinti

That means a lot from a passionate lady such as yourself, Nakinti. I'm so touched that this story inspired that kind of emotion in you.

From Israel to Cameroon, feeling the love. <3

~ Maya

Taha Mirani's picture

Salutes, Brave Lady!

You are an inspiration, Maya. Blessings from this side.

Love. Peace. Prosperity.

Taha Mirani

Love

Taha Mirani

Maya Norton's picture

Taha

Thank you, Taha. I feel your love.

I have to ask: before you started writing for local newspapers, where did you learn to write like this (http://worldpulse.com/node/68729)? With every sentence, you're taking us along on the rollercoaster ride.

Namaste,

~ Maya

Titilope's picture

A woman of courage

You are very courageous and bold. Your story is very chilling and touching. It is quite challenging sticking to web 2.0 in a conflict zone . But it is the greatest weapon you have to weather the storm.
Great courage indeed!

Maya Norton's picture

Titilope

Exactly. You got it, lady.

Titilope, how in the world do you have time to take on another project - VOF - with eveything you have going on (http://worldpulse.com/node/68130; http://worldpulse.com/user/9619)? You are one busy woman!

I have a question for you, but almost don't want to ask after seeing all of your projects and commitments. I've long wondered what accounts for the high rate of internet penetration in Nigeria. Any thoughts? www.internetworldstats.com/top20.htm

Write on,

~ Maya

Sharontina's picture

Maya

Dear Maya,

I can never imagine that, living in a war zone, running with your lil loved ones. But you have brought the pic right into my screen and heart.

My prayers for you, your sweet lil children and all who are having a tough time there between life and death.

Love.

Merlin Sharontina

Maya Norton's picture

Sharontina

Warm thanks, Sharontina. I take your prayers to heart.

May you go from strength to strength,

~ Maya

Sulo39's picture

In Solidarity!

Hi Maya,

I just read your post and I am sorry to learn about your experiences of living in a war-zone. Stay safe. Social media is a good platform for your to connect with women like you across the border and start a discourse on how women can contribute towards ending the violence and bringing peace to your countries. I would love to know if you are already doing this type of cross border communication.

Take care,
Sulo

joy Spencer's picture

Thank you

Thank you so much for sharing. I hope you continue to make connections that help you keep your sanity and continue to share your life with others. Best to you and your family.

Maya Norton's picture

Thank you, Joy. Wishing you

Thank you, Joy. Wishing you friendship through this process.

Warm regards,

~ Maya

torilynnfox's picture

Thank you for sharing this

Well done. What a moving story. You have a great voice and so much to share. I truly hope you continue writing and sharing in every way you can!

Maya Norton's picture

Torilynn

Thanks, Torilynn (pretty name). I hope one day you'll have a chance to write more in your journal so that we can hear your story too. Please drop me a line when you do so.

Kind regards from Israel to Panama City Beach,

~ Maya

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