Aida Becomes a Leader

Author Portrait_Walaa Hassan, Adolescents and Livelihoods Program Officer
Walaa Hassan

Adolescents and Livelihoods Program Officer

Save the Children in Egypt

September 2, 2017

On her way to her first day of facilitators’ training, 16-year-old Aida smiled as she passed by the Arab Al-Qadadeh youth center, remembering how before she was not allowed to enter this place to play or even to attend any kinds of activities.

In rural areas especially in Upper Egypt, where Aida is from, people are conservative and trust in old traditions that restrict the movement of girls, frowning on their involvement in outdoor activities or other events that would have them move around or play in front of boys or in the public’s eye. Instead, they are expected to spend all their time doing work around their homes or finding other ways to serve family members, for example by doing farm work to help with income.

Aida, youth leader and champion of girls' rights.
Aida, youth leader and champion of girls’ rights.

Aida joined Tomohaty in 2015. Tomohaty, meaning “Ambitions” in English, is a holistic program that covers topics that are related to the wellbeing of adolescents, such as life skills, responsible citizenship, reproductive health, livelihoods and career guidance. This curriculum is provided through coordination between Save the Children sponsorship staff and the local Ministry of Youth, and supported thanks to donations from our sponsors. It focuses on empowering out-of-school girls through sessions that build their self-confidence and teach them how to express their opinions, adopt positive behaviors and attitudes, and make decisions. In addition to learning new skills, the Tomohaty program also sets up time for girls-only sports activities inside the local youth center. This is so important to combat the culture that keeps girls inside their homes, both by helping girls to feel free and also by calming parents’ fears as they know the girls are playing somewhere safe.

Previously, Aida used to spend her time doing the housework or working in the fields to earn money. She would hand the money to her father to help provide for the family, so that he would not have to carry this burden all by himself. She was deprived from her right to learn and not allowed to go to school. Instead she was exposed to the very strenuous and high pressure responsibility of supporting the family, which deeply affected her hopes for the future.

By joining Tomohaty, Aida started to attend sessions with girls her age and practice sports at the youth center, exploring her self-awareness as she had never done before. She discovered, for example, that she is very talented in volleyball. She also started to share what she learned in the adolescent sessions with her parents and siblings.

She began to shift her role from solely attending the sessions to more of a leadership role, for example helping to keep the other students organized by assigning roles in activities and group projects, speaking out in front of the group, and taking the initiative to talk to the head of the youth center about the girls’ needs. Through these sessions, Tomohaty taught her how to express her fear and rejection of the traditions restrictive of her rights to her parents and help them understand the freedom and opportunities she felt she deserved.

Despite their conservative traditions, her family began to support her, even when her network in the community became wider as she started to tell her neighbors about the importance of these sessions for their daughters. Although she is young, she was able to make a significant impact on her community, evidenced when 8 new girls from her neighborhood in Arab Al-Qadadeh joined Tomohaty classes, solely resulting from Aida’s conversations with them and their parents.

Aida showing her classmates the right positions before their volleyball match.
Aida showing her classmates the right positions before their volleyball match.

In addition to that, the Tomohaty program helped Aida to attend a training for social workers and facilitators on first aid, which she was able to use to help her father when he burned his hands while making tea at home. He was astonished with her knowledge but more so with her new found self-confidence. “Now I am proud of having a daughter supporting me like a boy, [even] more [than a boy],” said Aida’s father excitedly. He was even more proud when she practiced with him the lessons on first aid and ways to deal with emergencies which she would be demonstrating to new girls in the youth center.

Aida was nominated to be a facilitator in 2017 after displaying her leadership skills and talent in communicating with girls.  “Aida has transformed into a young lady in her attitudes and behaviors, she has formed effective relationships with girls in the youth center and she has turned into a leader,” explained her Tomohaty facilitator, Faiza, a sponsorship trained community member who helps oversee the group.

Aida also attended a 7-day training with Save the Children to even further enhance her skills in facilitation and communication, and she is now preparing her first session as a Tomohaty facilitator in the Arab Al-Qadadeh youth center.

“I want to add value for other girls in their lives. I want to be a female leader and make my parents proud of me even more,” recounted Aida with confidence. Clearly, Aida is already achieving these dreams and helping many people.

Our deepest thanks to our sponsors of the children and programs in Egypt for making these achievements possible.

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A Teacher’s Process

Author Portrait_2_Mirvat Mahran, Early Childhood Care and Development Teacher
Mirvat Mahran

Early Childhood Care and Development Teacher

Save the Children Egypt

September 1, 2016

 

I’m Mirvat Mahran, a teacher at one the preschools supported by Sponsorship, in a village called Arab AlQadadeh in Egypt.

My preschool takes part in Sponsorship’s Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) program, which targets children under the age of 6. This program focuses on the development of young children to ensure they enter primary school with the skills they need for school success. Through activities like interactive games, songs, storytelling, social interaction and outdoor play, we help make sure children grow and thrive. In remote areas, where this important stage of life is often neglected, the ECCD program helps get children excited about education and thus increases enrollments in primary school.

On a regular work day, I perform activities with children to help build their social skills and teach them the basics they need to be ready for school. We welcome everybody, and in particular give special care to children with disabilities.

One of the children who joined us a while ago is Rania, a 5-year-old and very sweet little girl. Her mother tells us that before enrolling in ECCD, Rania always refused to talk or express herself. She wasn’t able to count to ten, didn’t know names of familiar animals, wasn’t able to identify names of many common objects to her surroundings and wasn’t able to put sentences together correctly. Her mother came to realize that she was significantly behind in language development.

Rania and the other kids clap along to a group activity led by their teacher, Mirvat
Rania and the other kids clap along to a group activity led by their teacher, Mirvat.

As a mother, she was willing to do whatever it took to help her daughter. She thought that a preschool might be the answer, and so decided to enroll Rania in a Save the Children supported preschool. As Rania’s new teacher, she explained to me her child’s issues and that she believed Rania had lost her self-confidence due to the laughter and criticism she endured from her peers. My biggest challenge with Rania was that I needed to avoid the same thing happening twice, so I had to welcome her very carefully, building her capacity using ECCD’s multi-activities package which is designed to promote the cognitive, physical, language and psycho-social skills of children her age.

I talked to her about the activities that the children here do to figure out what she loves best. She asked to play in the art corner and after she’d finished her drawing I asked her to describe it. I encouraged her to talk by giving her the impression that I understood her comprehensively. Gradually, I started to correct her and teach her the proper pronunciation of letters. In this way, her language skills developed as did her comfort in the classroom.

She began participating in our classroom’s reading corner, where she enjoyed reading and acting stories out in front of the other children. With her self-confidence rebuilt, she started to take part in the collective games, like playing with, and sharing, blocks and preforming plays with the other children.

Rania presents in front of her classmates
Rania presents in front of her classmates.

Now, Rania is able to clearly communicate and understand the others. I feel so happy for having a positive impact on her life. I felt responsible for her since the moment her mother came to me asking for help. I doubted myself at times, but the trainings I had received with Save the Children built a solid foundation that I relied on, and continue to rely on. Many of the mothers in our village turn to me whenever they face problems with their children. Now, I’m proud to say that Rania is looking forward to moving onto primary school next year!

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Stimulating Early Learners

Portrait 1

Hend Saad

Early Childhood Care and Development Coordinator, Save the Children Egypt

June 25, 2014

 

 

“I feel filled with happiness when I see a child smiling with that innocent look in their eyes,” said Hend Saad.

Hend joined Save the Children in Egypt in 2013 to support our Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) Program which provides families with access to safe places for their young children to learn play and make friends. Hend works directly with children on a daily basis, and is one of the lucky people who adores her job.  At  ECCD class

“I remember one day when I arrived at an ECCD class to monitor the activities, and a five year old boy Ahmed ran towards me after he noticed that I was holding a camera .He excitedly asked me to take a picture of him which I did. I was struck by his eloquence and couldn’t help thinking of children who did not have a safe place like that to develop, be stimulated and grow.

At ECCD  classWhen I returned home I thought again of Ahmed, and that comparison remained in my mind: Ahmed the confident kid who participates in ECCD, and other children who spend most of their time playing on the streets with little care and almost no stimulation from anyone. I realized that our mission in Egypt is not easy, and there are many challenges, but I will work when all children can join ECCD classes. It’s not only good for their development, it’s their right!”

 

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