About Hakawati

HAKAWATI : A Social Justice Non-Profit Organization
In cultures of the Middle-East the hakawati, or storyteller, once played a central role in society. They drew large crowds, told cultured tales, folklore, and sagas, with great wit, wisdom, poise, and expression. They understood the impact of words and the indelible impressions stories leave on our souls. They knew storytelling was and continues to be a primal form of our survival: educating, healing, uniting, and connecting us.

Hakawati is a social justice vehicle working with communities that exist on the frontlines of suffering to catalyze radical change. Hakawati was founded by Syrian-Armenian-American actress/writer/producer Sona Tatoyan. With a passion for storytelling, human rights and transformation, Hakawati is driven to use the art of storytelling to heal. As a meeting place to witness trauma and support its alchemy towards inspiration and creativity, Hakawati aspires to empower the seemingly disempowered: to help un-silence the silenced and amplify the compassionate humanity of all of us.

We provide an empowering platform that facilitates the creative talent of refugees and marginalized people through development labs in film, theater, and other storytelling modalities, along with creating indigenous theater and film productions. Hakawati works with, and employs people from within these local communities whenever possible – to tell stories by people from the places and spaces where the story originates. We work to preserve cultures under threat, mentor artists in frontline communities, and support refugee storytelling within displaced communities.

We keep the tradition of the hakawati alive in the modern era of storytelling using old indigenous storytelling modalities as well as modern mediums of film and creative technologies to carry it through. Hakawati integrates the work of professional artists and filmmakers, renowned spiritual teachers, innovators, scientists, therapists, and people who move humanity forward, with a commitment to transform trauma into power through authentic storytelling.

USA and Armenia.
Hakawati USA is a 501(c)(3), a registered non-profit organization since 2018.
Hakawati Armenia is a newly registered NGO since 2024.

Hakawati believes healing and empowering the individual is the source of engendering a more positive collective. Having full access to an individual’s cultural heritage is a paramount feature of belonging to a community and creating a sense of identity. At times of conflict aggressors seek to destroy other people’s heritage by annihilating and isolating them from their history and culture. Hakawati looks to facilitate ways of preserving, nurturing, and growing indigenous heritage through the medium of storytelling, art, and popular culture.

Hakawati understands that narrative is central to our personal empowerment and to how we function and navigate in our world. We are committed to serving those who have not had the opportunities to speak their own truths, tell their own stories, and accurately represent their realities.