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Ideas

Aida, hairdresser and stylist in Al-Ezzeya village

Aida Shafik introduced herself as an illiterate housewife and mother of three children. At least this is how she used to be. Aida lives with her husband and children in Al-Ezzeya village, Manfalot disctrict (Markaz) since over 10 years now. For her, life was harsh until she heard about Hayat Kareema project. “I once went with a relative to a hairdresser and saw her pay 200 EGP. I can become a hairdresser. My husband works all day under the burning sun of Assiut just to come back home with few pounds that do not cover our expenses. I know I can help”, Aida says. Aida faced many challenges before she could fulfill her dream. Norms put many restrictions on women’s freedom of movement and limit their ability to conduct profitable activities outside their homes. Women work is often shameful in Upper Egypt. At the beginning, Aida’s husband refused the idea: the business needs a capital to buy equipment, while his income barely covered the family basic needs. More and above, Aida did not have the skills needed to conduct a business of hairdressing. In addition, it is out of question for her and her husband to leave the house and spend few days in Assiut to get the required training there. At that time, her dream was far away from becoming true. To improve the economic opportunities for women in poor communities like Aida, Hayat Kareema distributed sub-grants to 130 local grassroots associations, 60 of whom supporting women, to launch micro-projects in order to ensure better livelihoods for themselves and their families. Why women? “Because we believe in the role of
women in improving livelihoods of their families and children. We also fully understand that many of the social issues that women face including domestic violence, early marriage as well as other problems are strongly related to crushing economic challenges”, Howaida Nagy, Project Manager at CARE explains. The community development association (CDA) in her village just made an announcement for women to present their applications. Approved candidates receive training sessions in order to gain the necessary skills for running their new businesses. For example, Aida received a two-week training at the local association on all aspects of hairdressing business. The association contracted a professional hairdresser from Cairo to come over in Assiut and train 15- 20 women the necessary skills for becoming a hairdresser. “I’d like to thank our trainer for everything he taught us. I did not come out of the training as a super hairdresser but I learned a lot. With practice and ongoing communications and advice from our trainer, I even became a better hairdresser”, she said. With a growing business, Aida can now support her children. “I am now capable of meeting my children needs and offer them a decent life. I say to every women out there: “work as long as you want to. People will talk anyway, so let them talk about me doing something useful for my family”, Aida says. Today, Aida’s husband supports her. He supports with food preparation for their children and makes sure they study their lessons. Now, Aida is thankful for him, as he also wants to see this business grow.Aida, hairdresser and stylist in Al-Ezzeya village Photo credit: Doaa Hamdy

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Ideas

Survived by raising chicken, Dalia Moawad tells her story

Dalia Moawad, a mother of five children, two of them from a previous marriage of her husband, tells us her story about how raising chicken saved her and her family. She lives in Melaheyat Sa’id village, Beni Suef. Her father-in-law kicked her and her family out when she told him about her chicken project. For him, selling chicken in the market is “a scandal for the family”, she says. She went to live in another house that she built when relations got so complicated with her father-in-law. They moved to a one-room house with no ceiling, no windows, no electricity and no water. Literally, they had nothing, not even money to buy food. Her husband works as a daily worker. Whenever he works, he is paid 30- 40 EGP a day. “Work was not a privilege. I needed to feed my children”, Dalia says. Dalia decided to choose duck raising at home after the association approved her candidacy. This was the perfect choice for a mother of five children. With a grant of 2000EGP and 200 EGP that she paid, Dalia got 25 ducks and 75 kilograms of feeds. Before receiving ducks, participants attend training sessions about raising ducks, feeding and vaccines. “Selling ducks was not easy. This is why I decided to shift to chicken in the second round. It is easier to sell”, she adds. Raising chicken is a profitable business but requires a lot of effort. Dalia has raised 50 chicken in the first cycle, 75 in the second cycle and 100 in the third. “I doubled my profits. My neighbors keep telling me they want to start their own businesses too. They ask me for advise”, she explains.
Thanks to her efforts, Dalia was able to get electricity, install glass for the window and a door for the house. Despite of her successful business, Dalia remains among vulnerable groups. Her son broke his arm few weeks ago and needed a quick surgery. Unfortunately, she had to use all of her profits to pay for the surgery. Now, she lost most of her capital and has to start all over again. Meanwhile, Dalia keeps dreaming of expanding her business and ensuring her children go to school.

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Ideas

Nesma Ramadan from marginalized divorced woman to successful entrepreneur

Once married ten years ago, Nesma was a housewife. After a three-month marriage, Nesma got divorced. Since that time, she did not have anyone to support her financially. Her father passed away. Her brother helps but he still needs to meet the needs of his children. “Even the EGP 300 divorced pension I used to receive was stopped due to some employee’s mistake,” she explains. “We used to argue a lot. He slapped me many times. When it was all over, I felt very down. Yet, I had to do something with my life”, she says.Nesma, now living with her mother, in Dayrout El-Sherif village, Assiut governorate, started with a grocery store; however, it did not work out well. “It was not lucrative enough. Moreover, when my mother got sick, I had to leave everything for her,” she says. “But how can we live with my mother’s four-hundred EGP pension?” At that time, the project facilitators were reaching out to local communities in the targeted villages of both Assiut and Beni Suef. When the facilitator reached out to her, Nesma did not have income at all. “I like sewing a lot. Since I was a little girl, I remember that I loved watching my aunt sewing. I even learnt it at school but it was not enough. I dreamt to have my own income. I did not want to be a burden on my brother anymore. I want to generate my own income just like he does”, she underlines. Marwa Hussein, Agriculture and Natural Resources Program Director says, “We believe that development of Upper Egypt is highly intertwined with women empowerment. For this reason, CARE, Egypt works on promoting income-generating activities to create self-sustained businesses for women. Women in
10Once married ten years ago, Nesma was a housewife. After a three-month marriage, Nesma got divorced. Since that time, she did not have anyone to support her financially. Her father passed away. Her brother helps but he still needs to meet the needs of his children. “Even the EGP 300 divorced pension I used to receive was stopped due to some employee’s mistake,” she explains. “We used to argue a lot. He slapped me many times. When it was all over, I felt very down. Yet, I had to do something with my life”, she says.Nesma, now living with her mother, in Dayrout El-Sherif village, Assiut governorate, started with a grocery store; however, it did not work out well. “It was not lucrative enough. Moreover, when my mother got sick, I had to leave everything for her,” she says. “But how can we live with my mother’s four-hundred EGP pension?” At that time, the project facilitators were reaching out to local communities in the targeted villages of both Assiut and Beni Suef. When the facilitator reached out to her, Nesma did not have income at all. “I like sewing a lot. Since I was a little girl, I remember that I loved watching my aunt sewing. I even learnt it at school but it was not enough. I dreamt to have my own income. I did not want to be a burden on my brother anymore. I want to generate my own income just like he does”, she underlines. Marwa Hussein, Agriculture and Natural Resources Program Director says, “We believe that development of Upper Egypt is highly intertwined with women empowerment. For this reason, CARE, Egypt works on promoting income-generating activities to create self-sustained businesses for women. Women in rural areas still are not actively participating in economic activities. Lately, with CARE efforts, women are more engaged in income-generating activities which has led to better positioning for women in household decision-making and better livelihoods for their families.”The association provided training to accepted applicants. Nesma received a training on sewing before handing her a sewing machine. “I started with sewing two bed sheets. I paid EGP 200 for the fabrics and the association gave me the sewing machine worth of EGP 1000”, she says. “I sold the bed sheets, then made more and more. I started selling to my sister and neighbors. One of my neighbors took me to the school where she works to sell my products to her colleagues.” Since then, Nesma expanded the network of her clients and went to several exhibitions to display her products. “I can earn up to EGP 1000 per month. I am now more experienced when it comes to buying fabrics and bargaining with traders”, she adds. “I dream of expanding my business, building-up a good reputation around the neighboring villages and maybe start marketing my products online to penetrate new markets”, Nesma says.

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News

Lining irrigation canals increases Hamzawy profits

Not only do lining canals help use water efficiently, but also they increase agricultural yields. However, canal lining has not been popular in Egypt until recently. Water leakage, higher costs of fuel and canals purification are the main problems with mud-made canals. Hamzawy Ibrahim, a farmer in Nazza Karar village, Assiut governorate says: “We used to purify canals 4 times per season with a cost of 100EGP/ feddan each time in addition to fuel and labor”. New canals occupy 1.20 square meters only instead of 5-meter mud canals. The space left after building the new canals is cultivated. Snakes, rats, mosquitos and all sorts of insects living in mud canals used to damage a valuable portion of the crop yield. Lining canals reduces time and fuel consumed on water uplifting engines. “It takes two hours to irrigate the land, half the time spent before”, Zakaria Gaber, farmer at Nazza Karar underlines. Less fuel and time means more yield and profits for farmers. Despite of scarcity of water resources, most farmers still follow the same old irrigation techniques. Out of the belief in the importance of developing the agriculture sector as a gateway to achieving socio-economic development in Upper Egypt, CARE, through Hayat Kareema project, introduces innovative irrigation systems to improve the efficiency of irrigation and agricultural systems in Upper Egypt. The EU- funded project offered sub-grants to cooperatives and local civil society associations to construct new-concreted irrigation canals. Marwa Hussein, the Agriculture and Natural Resources Program Director at CARE Egypt says:
“lining canals helps thousands of farmers reduce costs of production and increase their yields, thus improve their profitability for years to come”.Hamzawy and his neighbors set an example for more farmers to follow. “Other farmers see how beneficial the new canals are and decided to build their own canals”, he says. Farmers have also enhanced the system by adding a metal door to block and/or unblock the water flow in the canal. As a result of these interventions, more farmers now are interested in this model. CARE has provided one kilometer of concreted canals in the village. “We still need 5 kilometers here in the village while other farmers in surrounding villages still do not have any concreted canals”, Hamzawy highlights. After the project completion, farmers who own large pieces of land already built canals on their own expenses; however, small farmers cannot afford the expenses. “In order for this system to be 100% efficient, we need everyone to be onboard”, Hamzawy adds. “We thank CARE and the European Union for helping us and wish to see more canals in the village soon”, Zakaria says.

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Culture

Viola

Her shiny eyes and mesmerizingsmile reflect her strong personality, which clearly shows when she speaks.

Viola, 11 years old, is the youngest of two brothers, and an active student within her school.

Through My School and I project, Viola’s school went through some restorations which included the school’s buildings maintenance and classrooms’ renovations.

The project also encouraged students to become more environment friendly after transforming part of the playground into a garden.

“The project resulted in major changes for our school and its surroundings. Now that the school wall is higher, we feel safer. Also, the new trees made our school smell pleasant”.

Aiming to cultivate leadership opportunities for girls, extracurricular activities and sports were also introduced to the school.

Activities such as students’ union, camps, and physical Education (P.E.) classes were implemented for the first time.

The project also worked on encouraging girls to join these activities “We play basketball at school.

I would also wish to learn how to play volleyball in the future. Thanks to the project, we now have a variety of games at our school”.

My school and I also initiated a child protection campaign teaching the students about protecting themselves and their bodies from any sexual harassment they could be prone to; “We learned to value ourselves and not to let anyone cross our boundaries.

If anyone tried to harass me, I won’t be scared, I would firmly stop him, shout out loud and immediately report the incident to my mother or one of my teachers who will protect me” explains Viola.

One of the best traits that Viola and the other students acquired during the project’s camps is being cooperative and supporting each other; the camp’s team building activities didn’t only teach the students how to protect their bodies, but also how to empower each other and educate their friends and neighbors on how to protect themselves.

As a former class president in the students’ union, Viola believes this experience had a huge positive impact on her personality and enhanced her leadership skills.

Her love of helping others pushed her towards running for the students union’s presidency this year.

Viola wishes one day that her small village would be safe and totally free from any harassers, and be more empowering to girls, realizing boys and girls are equal.

She also wishes to become a doctor in order to cure the people of her village, as she would hate to see her loved ones suffer.

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Culture

Khadija

“You are as precious as a star, no one is like you”. Khadija, who is a sixth grader and the Secretary of the school’s student union empowers her colleagues in Minya, Upper Egypt with those words.

Despite her young age, she talks to them about child protection techniques and gender-based violence with confidence and wisdom.

“I learned that my body, especially my private parts, are my own, no one is allowed to violate my privacy and see or touch them.”

Khadija’s strong interest in women’s rights emerged when she joined the activities of “My School and I” project, which aims to cultivate leadership opportunities for girls through extracurricular activities and school participation and raise their awareness on gender and child protection in Beni Suef, Minya and Assiut.

The project’s events included working in groups and brainstorming different methods of stopping violence against women.

Khadija recounts “the activities’ facilitators talked to us about women’s rights, and raised our awareness on different violations that women are subject to.

We now know that violence is not only limited to physical violence like hitting and harassment, violence can be psychological too.

Being called names, shaming and labeling women, and refusing to publicly call a woman’s name in public and calling her by her husband’s name instead, are all types of psychological violence that women are subject to, and we must firmly resist and refuse”.

Khadija’s interest in her position as the students’ union president is driven from her love of helping others.

She likes to help her colleagues learn how to protect themselves from any violence, she also coordinates with the protection committee at school to ensure all the students are safe and secure.

Together with other members of the union, they took the initiative of involving the students in the process of transforming part of the playground into a garden, and asked the school’s principle to arrange for a “going green” class once a week, where all the students could practice gardening to beautify their school.

Khadija hopes to play an active role in protecting women rights so that she could one day witness her society free from violence against women.

The project is funded by Dubai Cares and implemented by CARE International in Egypt and targets 15,000 primary students (50% girls, ages 6-12) in 20 schools.

Additionally, it targets over 600 stake-holders such as teachers, social workers, board of trustees members, members of child protection committee, supervisors from the Ministry of Education, school administration members, Physical Education teachers, female leaders and school maintenance team members.

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Culture

Ali – My School and I

On the Western bank of the River Nile, resides 12 year-old “Aly” with his four siblings in Minya governorate.

Unlike most students his age, Aly is impressed with the developed standard of his school and the improvements it has witnessed since the beginning of “My School and I” project; “In our school you hear no cursing, you see no sexual harassment or gender based violence, girls are just equal to boys.”

Aly believes external maintenance was all that was missing for his school to be perfect; “The buildings were very old and dull; we wished they could look better and we approached our principle, and she promised she would consider our request but had no funds.”

“My School and I” project started working on the dream of Aly and his colleagues; painting the school’s façade, equipping it with the needed tools, and maintaining its facilities, the school totally transformed.

The project’s activities are not limited to this; it also aims at fostering a safe environment for its students, and educating them about protecting their bodies from any harassment they could be subject to.

In addition, the project works on improving the students’ leadership skills through including them in extracurricular activities, and improving their reading and writing abilities through readability classes.

Aly speaks about his favorite learning method which was newly introduced by the project in his school; the study groups.

The method depends on dividing the students into mixed groups of both weak students and top achievers; this stimulates the weak students to improve and gives the top achievers an opportunity to help their colleagues, creating a motivational and cooperative atmosphere among the students.

In these study groups Aly has helped three of his colleagues improve their reading and writing skills.

As a pro-active student and a member in the school’s student union, Aly decided to take an action towards achieving his colleagues’ will of introducing new sports activities at school.

He took the initiative and delivered their will to the school’s administration, and together they started working on arranging football tournaments and introducing new sports such as volley ball, which qualified him to become the sports secretary at the students’ union.

According to Aly, the best thing about working in the school’s student union is working on improvements and witnessing people’s satisfaction afterwards;

“I am overjoyed when I hear people complimenting our school and its achievements, it’s the perks of being part of the students’ union. I love my school and I wish the whole city is as developed and beautiful as it is.”

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Culture

Sarah

Sarah is a member in “El-Nour” group in Nidah village, Ikhmim, Sohag.

She is a student in a technical secondary school and the middle daughter in a family of 8 members.

Sarah is a beautiful girl, but she suffers from stuttering which made her introvert and reluctant to interact with people around.

She hardly pursues her education and tends to avoid participating with her colleagues in any activity or outing.

After the participation of Sarah’s mother in a saving group, she tried to persuade her to join them to interact with people and get out of her introversion, yet all these attempts were unsuccessful.

That’s when Sarah’s mother decided to let her father convince her with the aim of saving some money to buy for herself accessories’ making supplies and tools in which she is interested.

Sarah hardly got convinced of participating in the saving group, at the beginning she refused to attend the sessions, and if she ever attends, she doesn’t speak or interact with her colleagues.

However, after few weeks, the members of the group started to talk to her and go to her house to ask about her if she ever didn’t attend a session.

As a result, Sarah began to feel comfortable with them, interact with them and attend the weekly sessions.

Few months later, the saving group started Financial Literacy training which made Sarah meet up with her group several times a week, and her participation started to be noticeable and effective in the group.

As a result, her facilitator asked her to participate in Tamkeen project that is being implemented by Association for Rural Women in Nidah village and aims at raising the girls’ awareness on the political participation.

At the beginning, Sarah refused due to her fear of people whom might make fun of her stuttering whenever she speaks.

Nevertheless, Sarah’s facilitator insisted on trying to convince her, and indeed, Sarah’s group members talked to her and persuaded her that she’s a strong girl and capable of participating in the project and surpass others.

After her participation in Tamkeen project that lasted for 6 months and attending the whole sessions and topics on political participation, the saving group started Social Empowerment training, which had a magical effect on Sarah!!

She became more confident in herself and started to express herself; her shyness of her stuttering and her sufferings in the interaction with people, “I used to be In’am* when I used to be shy of myself and hide from people, but now I became Fayza*, I want to remain Fayza and I never want to be In’am anymore”, said Sarah.

Since then, Sarah tended to be more active and more confident in herself.

She also tended to regularly attend the group’s meetings whom have had a favor in the great changes occurred to her life.

Moreover, she thought of investing in her only hobby “accessories making” through getting a loan from the saving group to buy the needed tools and start her work that will be marketed among her new friends and colleagues.

Indeed, Sarah got a loan of LE 300 and bought the needed tools to start-up her accessories business.

Then she made the first quantity and sold them to her friends and network, she managed to pay the loan’s installments on time and made a good profit margin through which she made another quantity and successfully sold them.

Consequently, Sarah thought of expanding her business and selling her accessories to school and university students.

Sarah knew how to start; making and selling accessories was a successful idea which has expanded and made Sarah invest more time and money in it by making big quantities and selling them in different places inside her village and outside it.

Moreover, through her cousin whom was a student in Sohag University, she managed to sell her accessories to the female students in the university. Now, Sarah’s big dream is to open a shop for making and selling accessories.

“The Saving Project drew my life and changed me from someone hides from people to someone deals with everyone around”, says Sarah.

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Ideas

Hind

From the womb of pain hope must be born, and hope was all what she owns.

Styling her relatives and close friends was not only her passion, but her mean for leading a decent life, along with her husband, the “C virus” victim, whose salary is almost fully spent on treatment, and their three children too.

“Hind”, the resident of Manshyet-Abduallah in Minya City, decided to make use of her talent in order to increase her family’s income, which doesn’t exceed 900 pounds, and acquire better living standards.

“It all started when I decided to open a small hair-dressing salon at home for my relatives and friends who know me well, in order to financially support my family. I used to get 50 pounds a week as profits, which sometimes reached 100 pounds on special occasions such as weddings and feasts.”

As Hind’s income increased, her dreams of expanding her salon and equipping it expanded too.

Lack of money was the only obstacle hindering her from achieving her dream.

Until one day she heard of “The Life Project” for saving and loaning, which was the key to her postponed dream.

The project which was established by CARE International Organization, depends on arranging residents in groups ranging between 10 and 20, who collect a sum of money they agree on, and loan it to one of them alternately each week.

“When I heard of the project I immediately joined, I had a strong feeling this was the hidden hope I have been searching for, and I was right about it; I formed a group with my friends, where I was able to save an amount of 300 pounds, after a while I was loaned 900 pounds, which made me able to buy a salon’s chair, a hair straightener, and some other accessories for my salon.

My income was doubled and I was able to pay my debt back.

Now I feel I own a real hair salon, one which is visited by the majority of Manshyet-Abduallah, not only my close circle.

“Hind” is one of hundreds of Upper Egyptian women, the unknown warriors, who have super natural powers which they use in fighting their every-day battles; battles of improving their living standards, battles of securing their children’s futures, battles which no one knows about but them, and no one has the courage and strength of facing them as much as they do. All praise goes to the secret heroines.

Categories
Culture

Shahira

Passion is all what you see in their eyes, which are carefully following her hands and face, moving together in harmony.

You immediately sense the love and tenderness she has to them, to an extent which would make you question if they are only her students not her kids.

Well known for a beautiful smile which is always preserved on her face, “Shahira”, who succeeded in transforming the lives of her students, is definitely a source of pride to all her village.

“Shahira” is not only one of “The Readability Project” instructors, but one of its organizers too.

She was able to attract the students of her village to the classes, after a long period of aversion to them, due to their fear from being viewed as unintelligent or lazy if they joined the readability classes. Besides her work as a teacher, Shahira supervises the project and gives a hand to other teachers whenever they need help.

“Since CARE started the project, I have been very excited about it. I attended all the preparatory training sessions to be able to apply all what I learnt with the kids.

I do my best to encourage the kids and make them love the classes, so I try to introduce different learning activities to the classes instead of the old tough methods of teaching.

Parents’ role in the educational process is crucial; that is why I teach them “the readability class curriculum”, so they could help their children with their studies, which definitely gives us better results.”

Shahira’s simple methods of teaching, and her innate experience as a mother in dealing with kids helped her succeed in gaining the love and trust of her students.

She started by working on improving their self-confidence, through asking them very simple questions and rewarding them when they answer correctly.

She also organized an exhibition to display the new methods of teaching so that all the teachers could benefit.

The effort Shahira’s students exert now in learning, and their persistence to improve and achieve better results, is the best proof she is an exceptional teacher and role model, who planted a seed of good that would soon ripe and have its positive impact on everyone; because “Confucius” once said it; if your plan is for one hundred years, educate children.”