Students Staff

14 October 2015

Award-winning blog tells Syria’s painful story

A poignant blog written by an Essex graduate about her experiences as a Syrian activist living underground in Aleppo has won an Online Journalism Award (OJA).

Dispatches from Syria, written by Marcell Shehwaro between March 2014 and September 2015, was praised by the judges for its “intensely personal writing” and for finding “the grey areas in a war usually told from polar extremes.

Marcell's blog was awarded the top prize in the Online Commentary category of the OJA. It was published by Global Voices, in it's The Bridge section which  features original writing from its community members around the world.

The blog describes Marcell’s life in the heart of Syria’s armed conflict. Writing about the pain of leaving her old life behind, Marcell retells stories such as “secretly meeting my sister at friends’, fortuitously kissing her kids, unable to explain to them my invisibility and the importance of keeping our meetings a secret.”

Describing how she started blogging in 2008, in the first of her Dispatches posts
Marcell said: “I had friends who were paying the price of freedom of speech in Syrian regime prisons. This was enough for freedom of speech to become my mission.”

In the years after, as Marcell continued to speak out and fight for a free Syria, she found herself routinely interrogated and in 2012 came to Essex. Graduating with an MA Human Rights and Cultural Diversity she returned to Syria moving to the liberated part of Aleppo where she describes living “with the constant fear of being kidnapped. At times I can withstand it, but at others I break down in exhaustion.”

She left Syria a year ago and describes her life since in her last post, published on 8 September.

Read Dispatches from Syria in full. Follow Marcell (in Arabic) @Marcellita

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