"An original song dedicated to the children suffering in Palestine." So Dania, a 15-year-old Palestinian-American singer, introduces her song in a video uploaded onto YouTube on 14 July.
With guitar in hand, she projects a captivating humbleness to accompany the strong message of her song, From Fear to Hope.
The USA-based singer is not an internationally known musician, and the recognition she receives is probably limited to a circle of local followers, family and friends. However, as the Israeli assault on Gaza and other Palestinian cities approaches the end of its third week, with a death toll pushing 900, Dania's message has become more poignant now than ever.
Dania, speaking via email, told Ahram Online that she hopes that her video will reach out to an audience that is not normally interested in this topic.
"What I have found with my generation is that many people will find the time to watch a music video, but will find it harder to make time to watch the news or read articles,” she said.
“With a very limited range of exposure that people are getting about this cause, I thought it would be a great idea to spread this video to promote hope, freedom, and peace. I hope to spark interest in people that don't know much about Palestine and encourage them to learn more of the truth themselves," she added.
Dania says that the song, which she has also performed live on several occasions, has prompted those listening to ask her questions about the subject.
"My parents were born in Palestine and I had the privilege of visiting in 2002. Although I was only three years old, I still remember having to walk over the rubble of a building to get to my school every day. However, besides the family ties I have with Palestine, I am interested in this cause purely because it's a humanitarian cause… Men, women, children, and entire families are being murdered, and homes are being destroyed. You do not have to be a Palestinian to realise that this is just wrong.”
Dania has taken her humanitarian activism a step further and is involved in the Palestine Children's Relief Fund (PCRF), a non-political humanitarian organisation with presence in Ramallah, Lebanon and the USA.
The organisation aims to address the "medical and humanitarian crisis facing Palestinian youths in the Middle East, according to its website.
Dania explains that it was the PCRF that helped her spread awareness through the video, by allowing her to perform it at a recent event the organisation held. She also volunteers with several of the group’s activities, including “"peaceful protesting, and informing those around [her] of the truth of what is going on."
"Oh Palestine, when will our freedom come?" Dania asks in her song. Her lyrics address the realities of war and the fear it brings with it, as well as the pain of those Palestinians who have lost family members and had their homes destroyed.
She also tackles what she tells Ahram are the “untrue messages” conveyed by today’s media about the violence, in lyrics such as : “They say I'm the bad guy. So much misinformation; they've got our stories all wrong. I just wanna raise my voice. But every time I scream there's no noise.”
“People have begun making this into a religious and political issue, but I think what everyone really needs to realise is that politics and religion need not be involved to end the terrorising of human beings," she told Ahram.
From Fear to Hope stands at the crossroad of Dania's interests –Palestine and music.
"My true interest in music did not blossom until I was twelve years old, when I first began teaching myself to play the guitar I had gotten for my tenth birthday. I began looking up videos on YouTube to learn how to play certain songs that interested me. [With time] I knew all of the most common chords comfortably enough that I could put them together to play any song that involved them," she explained.
As well as studying the guitar online and in formal lessons, Dania began exploring her own musical creativity, coming up with lyrics "to express my individuality," as she puts it. From Fear to Hope is her first original song that has been video recorded and released publicly.
"Maybe there can be a day of hope. One where mom won't cry and I will be living without these fears I hold. Oppress me, abuse me; Palestine will be free," she concludes her song.