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Khadra Mostafa selling homemade soap for her neighbors

What could EGP100/ a day do for a family of seven members? Khadra Mostafa, a married woman living with her husband and five children in Dayrout El-Sherif village, Assiut governorate. The oldest girl is 16 years old is getting married soon, and the youngest is a 5-year-old boy. Large families tied with small income are a main feature of local communities. Khadra’s family speaks for the status quo of thousands of poor families in Upper Egypt. Her husband, Sherif works as a baker. He has been moving from one working place to another. Khadra and Sherif used to fight all the time about money. This has quickly turned into violent discussions. Endless discussions triggered silence. Khadra in dire need for money has stopped asking her husband for money not even for her diabetes medication. She ended up going into a coma. The family remained with zero income for long time.Amal Bokra/ Hope for Tomorrow association made an announcement about the EU sub-grants. Khadra submitted an application. She has always loved soap trading. Before getting married, she used to sell and buy ready-made soap. But she could not make soap at home. “I did not know how to make it. No one taught me”, she explains. First, her husband refused the home-based business. He could not stand the idea of people constantly visiting the house day and night. Things changed overnight! One day, her husband left his job for over a month. “Suddenly, he stopped pouring his anger on me: he realized that I can make money on my own. We don’t argue about expenses anymore”, she said.
Zaynahom, head of Amal Bokra association explains that the grant covers the largest portion of the capital needed for the business while the applicant pays the rest to ensure her seriousness about launching the business. In addition to the grant, Khadra received a 3-day training at the association premises to gain the necessary skills for soap making. At the beginning, it was not easy: “I spoiled two mixes and kept crying all day. At the end, I was able to fix them. They were all sold out”, she explains. “Today, I gain EGP 800/ month. I pay the house rent. I spend the rest on food and education of my children and save some money for my daughter’s wedding”, Khadra adds.This small business has just unleashed her mind to think about bigger dreams. She is now dreaming of expanding her business and buying a new house. “What would happen to my children if I die? I do not want to leave them on the street. We need to have our own house”, she highlights. Howaida Nagy, Project Manager at CARE explains: “CARE is keen on providing women participants with capacity-building trainings as we will not contemplate with providing money to participants. Our goal is to offer sustainable interventions to the target groups that would have impactful sights on their livelihoods for years to come.”

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Youth champion community-based monitoring in Assiut and Beni-Suef

210 young men and women have been engaged in monitoring the performance of local grassroots organizations in Beni-Suef and Assiut during Hayat Kareema project period (2016- 2019). The community-based monitoring model is designed to build trust between CARE and local grassroots associations on one side and between project’s participants and associations on the other side.As part of the Governance Programming Framework, CARE introduces social accountability tools for the first time in Egypt. Partners are fully engaged in ensuring transparency, access to information and compliance to all forms of community-based monitoring mechanisms. “The model offers a space to citizens to help improve local development processes in the most impoverished areas of Egypt”, Dr. Refaat Abdel-Kerim, Governance and Civil Society Advisor at CARE Egypt says. Youth described how impactful it was on their characters, lives and improving the project’s final deliverables. Mohamed Farag-Allah, coordinator at Hayat Kareema project, explains: “I learnt a lot through this experience. I learnt about procurement, tenders, filing systems. I have better communication skills”. Trainings included communications, accountability concepts, report writing, conflict resolution, field monitoring, input tracking, and public hearing management. Despite signing contracts between CARE and grassroots associations clearly stating that the community-based monitoring mechanism is an essential part of the project. Yet, associations had a difficulty cooperating with young graduates playing the role of monitors at the beginning. Directors of associations are used to receive inspections from government entities not youth. That is a precedent of its kind.
“It is not easy for associations to receive a bunch of fresh graduates coming to spotlight mistakes and expose them to the community and CARE, or at least this how they thought we are coming for. However, when we explained that we are here to help, provide technical support and improve their performance, they started to cooperate gladly”, Ahmed Mohamed, former facilitator at the project says. Monitoring incorporated meeting with project’s participants, discussions with association’s team and documentation review. When bugs surfaced, the monitoring team starts discussing with the team at the association the means of adjustments. Then, the whole thing is reported back to CARE. If the association does not make the necessary amendment. A public hearing session is organized. “Associations lack the experience and technical knowledge. Some of them do not own a laptop. Others do not know how to write reports”, Ahmed underlines. Said Hefny, director of Ayadi El-Kheir association at Beni Soliman village, Beni Suef previously described young graduates as “a bunch of kids inspecting the association’s work”. He quickly changed his perspective when he realized the true objective of social accountability. “They –the youth- became our contact point with the community. At some point, they redirected our attention to more unprivileged areas in the village. They transferred best practices from one association to the other”, he explains. So far, 18 public hearings sessions were held with the main purpose of providing a platform of interaction and dialogue between grassroots beneficiaries, local CSOs, local authorities and local business community. Most CSOs applied the required amendments.

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Machinery increase yields, value-added agriculture products

Agriculture in Egypt lacks machinery and equipment to improve the production process. Aware of such an issue, the EU- funded project, Hayat Kareema, accepted proposals of local CDAs and cooperatives for buying machinery that meet the needs of farmers’ communities.In Beni Suef, farmers suffer from high prices of rents, inaccessibility and poor quality of available machinery. For this reason, Ahmed Gomaa, director of the cooperative of El-Zaitoun village presented two proposals worth of one million EGP to CARE, through Hayat Kareema project, to provide tractors, a corn silage machine, a plough and a trailer. “Our role is to provide services to farmers. We already provide seeds and fertilizers, however, the cooperative is opt to optimize its role by providing machinery at affordable prices for farmers in El-Zaitoun village”, Ahmed says. “Up to the present moment, 1000 out of 1700 registered farmers have benefitted from the two tractors”, he adds. Flipping is important to preparing lands for the next cultivation season and helps increase yields by the end of the season. “Suppliers used to exploit farmers as they offered their tractors at high prices in El-Zaitoun. They know that farmers have no other option”, Ahmed explains. The cooperative offers tractors at lower prices, 500 EGP instead of 700 EGP as offered in the market. View the lower prices offered by cooperatives, in turn, suppliers decreased prices too. Nasser Hussein, a farmer in El-Zaitoun village praises the quality of the cooperative’s tractor, leading to an increase of his yield; and
highlights the importance of accessibility to machinery for improving agriculture production. “My wheat yield increased from 3.5 tons to 5 tons last season. Having a high-quality tractor next door- at the cooperative- is definitely a good idea. Previously, we used to search for tractors in surrounding villages. It was difficult to find one on the spot. We had to wait for a week till we get it to the village”, Nasser Hussein, a farmer in El-Zaitoun village says. Filtering and packaging is another example of introducing machinery in agriculture sector. Beni Suef governorate produces vegetables and fruits allocated for exportation.

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Zeinab

Zeinab, a sister to six brothers, sits proudly in her renovated classroom. “Our school has transformed”.

“The school’s conditions were horrible in the past; we only had one bathroom serving the whole school, we had no courage or mechanism to deliver our complaints and no one was listening to us”.

“My School and I” project, which aims to improve the learning environment in 20 schools in Minya and Beni Suef, was implemented in Zeinab’s school.

She and her colleagues are jubilant about their school’s makeover.

Their words are full of ownership and pride. “Now we have new water faucets, new bathrooms, a complaint box that is frequently checked by the administration and a child protection committee to ensure our safety”.

The project’s best achievement according the sixth grader is the teachers’ new teaching techniques; “I used to be afraid of speaking myself out or asking any questions because the teachers would scold me or even hit me at times, but this has changed”.

No one can do this now as I would immediately report it to the protection committee that would take a firm action against the aggressor.

“We have noticed that our teachers are more patient now and are more open to listen to our discussions and answer our inquiries”.

Zeinab also felt a change in reduced discrimination between girls and boys at the school; “I love to play basketball, Before the project, girls had less privileges and weren’t allowed to play sports in the playground. The project helped the school’s administration and students to overcome this injustice, and now we have the same rights to play sports during activity classes, just like boys”.

After attending the project’s sports days and being involved in different team building activities, she believes that she became a better team player and started cooperating with her colleagues more.

Zeinab dreams to become a doctor and wishes that the school would have a library where she could spend her free time reading and learning.

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TODAY.. CARE IS TURNING 72 YEARS OF IT’S GLOBAL OPERATIONS AND 63 IN EGYPT

Today, CARE is turning 72 years of it’s global operations and work globally “Defending Dignity, Fighting Poverty”.
while CARE International in Egypt turned 63 today as we have proudly been in Egypt since 1954.

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Wedad Nouman

“I’m tired”, she said even before introducing herself to us, It came from her heart and her exhausted features asserted it.

Time has had its toll on her wrinkled face and she looked 100 years old.

Her name is Wedad Nouman, from Tatalia Village, Assiut Governorate.

Wedad leant on the table before her, so as to sit quietly in her chair. Her tired body landed, which gives you the feeling – sitting before her – that the whole world came to rest, especially after the long sigh she uttered.

Down in her heart, there was a lot of pain reflected in her pitch dark clothes, as if she lost a dear one.

Wedad is certainly tired, but her success story is an example to be followed.

Her husband travelled to Iraq at the end of the 1990s and she didn’t hear from him again.

She didn’t know if he was alive or dead, let alone that of course he didn’t send her any money.

This went on for a very long time; for 18 whole years. A lonely woman who – all of a sudden – found herself bearing the responsibility of ten children.

A lot of women around the world are responsible for raising only one child, but she had to care for ten children.

She had every right to put emphasis on her words when she said “I’m tired”. “I pray God that no one sees what I have seen in my days”, said Wedad.

“He came back suddenly as he left suddenly, but he came with a dusty face, messy hair and a beard hanging on his chest.

He looked like a captive in a war won by no one. He looked as if he came all the way from Iraq on foot.

He came back after he has fallen sick, he came back with empty hands for his children, whom he abandoned and returned to find them grown men”.

When her husband left, Wedad did not give up.

She was keen to make her children continue with their education, but also to find them jobs during their schooling and in the summer vacation, so that they provide a source of income, no matter how little.

The girls were no exception, for she educated all of them.

She took part in money pools a long time ago, five years ago.

In the beginning, she participated with five names and got 2,000 pounds.

She took another 2,000 EGP loan and bought a small calf. She cared for it as she cared for her children.

The calf gave birth to two babies. She was so happy with them and took good care of them till they grew up.

She sold one for 12,500 pounds and the other for 8,000 pounds. This was a big wealth for this woman, who cared not only for her children, but for her grandchildren too.

She used this money in renting a small plot of land, to plant and provide food for the calf that produces milk, butter and cheese, that she sells to her neighbors, providing her with another source of income. Her children have grown and became men.

She said with relief, “My son takes care of the crops”. She wished.

she had someone to carry all her burdens. “I’m tired, I’m tired of my heavy burdens.

Even after I helped my daughters get married, I still care for them and their children, hence I’m responsible for my children and my grandchildren”.

As if it’s a chain of endless responsibilities, a chain that shackles her and burdens the exhausted old woman.

“Some people feel for me and others say why is she playing the man? Even when my husband came back from Iraq, he objected to my work”.

But the wise woman, who bore all these responsibilities and overcame all these hardships, managed to tame her husband who came back after long years.

She confronted him calmly and asked him why is he indignant. “I never asked you what happened in Iraq.

You came back sick and I took care of you. I never uttered a word”. “He backed and felt thankful for this faithful woman who waited for him all these long years.

Bit by bit he changed his opinion. When we asked her if he helped her she said “Help? He’s too old and can’t go around like the old days. If he supports himself that would be enough for me.”

“It is not shameful to work, but it is shameful to beg”, she concluded.

“This is what God destined for me”, She is content with all that she experienced and all that she achieved.

She still gives abundantly to her children and grandchildren, in spite of the hard lines time put on her face.

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Sondos

In Minya, like many conservative rural areas, girls are usually not allowed to play or take part in schools’ activities.

Sondos, an 11 years old girl, attending one of the beneficiary schools of “My School and I” project, had a different experience.

Sondos saw everything in her school changing throughout the past period.

“our classrooms are more colorful and clean, our teachers are now more dedicated in their explanation and are using more interactive methods.

Also, the school’s environment became a safer one especially for girls”.

Sondos narrates to us how the teachers used to severely hit the students even for minor mistakes, believing this is the best way to raise and educate a child.

Consequently, students were very scared of the teachers and couldn’t communicate with them, which hindered the educational process.

After attending several training sessions held by the project, the teachers started realizing the fatal mistake they have been committing, and learnt that hitting doesn’t only harm the children, but is also a punishable crime by law.

“I can’t believe hitting is finally prohibited in our school, it was a nightmare that created boundaries between us and our teachers” says Sondos.

The project also trained the school’s teachers on new teaching methods and improved the school’s learning facilities, which eased up the learning process for the students and made it more interesting to them.

The readability classes which are starting at the beginning of this academic year aim to improve the reading and writing skills of the students.

Sondos works in the school’s student union, which was initiated by the project to grant the students opportunities to acquire leadership skills.

The project encouraged girls to join the union too, which gradually removed the barriers between girls and boys at school and achieved equality among them.

Sondos really loves her renovated school, however she wishes one day her school would have a music room with a piano; she has been dreaming of learning the piano for a long time, and who knows maybe one day she would grow to become a famous pianist.

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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.”

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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.

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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.