“Yes, We Still Drink Coffee!” is a collection of powerful essays, interspersed with beautiful illustrations, that tell the stories of female human rights defenders from Egypt, Kuwait, Palestine, Tunisia, Turkey, Somalia and Sudan. 

The book has been jointly published by two charities: Fighting Words and Front Line Defenders. Fighting Words works to foster imagination and develop the creative writing skills of children and young people, and Front Line Defenders is dedicated to protecting human rights defenders who are at risk due to the nature of their work.

Behind each story is a meeting of two women. Every piece was created when an inspiring advocate for the rights of others shared her story with an acclaimed writer, who then put it to paper. As a collection, these stories have striking commonalities, yet they are all delightfully unique in their telling.

The core message of the book is not a commendation of the extraordinary work being done by these women (although this is much deserved!). Instead this collaboration celebrates their ordinariness. We are given an insight into some of the most difficult places to be human in the world, and are introduced to women doing just that. 

These women still go for coffee, they still scroll through Instagram, they make jokes, they are as human as you and I, even in the face of absolute inhumanity. One woman describes her life as a human rights defender as “annoying” and “tiring”, as one might describe a tedious office job. For them, rising up to combat injustice is simply an element of their everyday life.

“Yes, We Still Drink Coffee!” is an intimate account of news stories to which we have become immune – too often unable to pierce through the overwhelming din of the media, and too far away to seem real. This book allows us to understand a world we have never been to, through the lens of human commonalities.

You will find yourself confronted with questions. Where was I, while these stories unfolded? Would I have the same courage, if my normal life was upturned by conflict? And what is “normal” life anyway? 

“Yes, We Still Drink Coffee!” is an arresting series of portraits, which gives an insight into the lives of extraordinarily ordinary women. It captures the immutability of our human nature, in even the most hostile of environments. One story offers this wisdom: When you love life, fear of death cannot stop you from taking action to protect it. Living life to the fullest is the greatest retaliation against oppression. 

This book exalts just that. 

You can purchase a copy of “Yes, We Still Drink Coffee!” at https://www.fightingwords.ie/yes-we-still-drink-coffee.

 

Photo by Fighting Words on Twitter

 

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