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Making youth aware in Egpyt
17 February 2009

Cairo, Egypt: In Egypt, as well as the spectacular 'Sailing the Nile' central event, there were a host of other IVD activities tackling different aspects of the Millennium Development Goals with a special emphasis on raising awareness among youth.

A tree planting campaign in the Embaba Quarter of Cairo - including an awareness-raising session on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with a special focus on MDG7 and related environmental issues - was held on 26 November.

About 75 youth took part in the awareness-raising session in which the role of volunteerism was emphasised; MDG 7 and environmental issues received special attention. Immediately after the session, 100 volunteers took part in the tree planting campaign and planted trees in a street and roundabout in Embaba.

The initiative was supported by a district official who attended the event. The participation of this official provided an exceptional opportunity for the community to interact with him. The district official was so impressed with the initiative that he asked the NGO to organize a tree planting campaign funded by the district.

As a result, a four day tree planting campaign fully funded by the local district and implemented by the same NGO took place a week later.

Key partners were the NGO Hawaa Al Mostakabel Society for Family and Environment Development, and the Cairo District Council.

A football match in the Gezira Youth Centre on 5 December targeted youth and used the popularity of football in Egypt as a means to convey a message about volunteerism and the MDGs. Materials about the MDGs and volunteerism were distributed among the public.

An awareness-raising session involving the youth that attended and played was held prior to the match and the session was facilitated by 15 volunteers. Two former professional football players were among the 16 volunteers who played with the aim of inspiring youth and attracting more attention.

Two more awareness raising sessions for a total of 100 youth were held, as well as a series of creative activities promoting volunteerism for the achievement of the MDGs under the title 'MDGs and the arts': a photography training course, a photo competition, a photo exhibition and a handicrafts competition. In addition, the students of AUC and Cairo universities distributed materials on the MDGs and volunteerism in their campuses.

The photo and arts activities proved effective in mobilizing youth and created a conducive environment for dialogue on volunteerism and MDG related issues. Two awareness sessions were facilitated by university volunteers working on an International Labour organization (ILO) project, who agreed to 'reinvent' some of the activities they implement to link them to the MDGs. This partnership between UNV and ILO was a positive result of our cooperation on the activities under this third component.

Two cleaning up activities were organized (one in a youth centre and the other in the Embaba District) with 20 volunteers participating in each (as well as the bystanders who joined in). Apart from collecting rubbish, brushing and cleaning, the volunteers also painted the curb of the youth centre.

The symbolic activities were inspiring for the communities and were particularly positive for youth. The youth centre benefitted from the efforts of the volunteers and the initiative was welcome by the director and his team. He seemed keen on promoting similar actions in the future.

Another interesting side result was a spontaneous 'hand washing' activity that followed the cleaning in Embaba. The children that had accompanied their parents in the cleaning were told about the importance of washing their hands and two UNV volunteers facilitated a hand washing session.

Key partners included the Gezira Youth Centre, NGO Hawaa Al Mostakabel Society for Family and Environment Development, Cairo District Council.