May Gah Alla works at the Kunouz Nubia Foundation. Here, she talks to us about the project to promote a culture of peace and acceptance of the other among young adolescents and why they chose to partner up with Masr Tobia on the project:
When I met with Samah from the Ibrahimia Center, we got on immediately. Kunouz Nubia was responsible for administrative support, and for choosing participants and trainers. It was a lovely opportunity for the tribes in Aswan to gather together with those coming from outside, in groups which included girls and boys, young and old, veiled and unveiled women.
On her evaluation of the work with the Ibrahimia Center:
It was more than excellent. Of course, going into the work there were some fears, and it was a risk for a civil institution in Egypt to partner up with a church organization. Everyone was wary. Even little girls would come accompanied with their older brothers so that they could find out what was going on. Then they’d find that the workshops were about tolerance, a concept that’s present in every religion, and about acceptance of the other, and that the activities were beautiful. They weren’t lectures but interactive activities that were enjoyed by young and old. The workshops and training sessions for the trainers, whether for children or adolescents were also wonderful, and with every hour that they went on, the levels of confidence and fascination increased. We all enjoyed it greatly, even the volunteers and workers.
On the positives of collaborating with multiple partners:
The positives are certainly many. For one example, people from different governorates began to understand one another. In the tribal societies there are things that are passed down through generations in a family, such as stereotypes. You might have a stereotype associated with someone from another family. Among the workshop participants were people who didn’t accept one another or didn’t accept certain kinds of thinking from someone else, and some of them had never visited the areas where the others were living, and didn’t know anything about them, and here they began to know all these things they hadn’t known before. We were dismantling the barriers between these people so that they could have a greater understanding of one another.
On the negative aspects:
I can’t really name any specific negatives, but there were some challenges. Such as putting all these people with all these different backgrounds on a single table. Being able to remove the fixed ideas from their minds. These were ideas they’d been raised on, so how could you change them in a week? Or change in one day what someone has been living with for years? And of course people were wary, asking, well what are you doing? And bear in mind that we at Kunouz Nubia don’t work on anything to do with religion, politics, or ethnic affiliations, and we can help people express the things important to us through the workshop.
On the project’s impact on the organization:
This was the first time our team collaborated with and could see the results of what we created with Masr Tobia, especially that we have some projects on inclusion which involve all governorates.
Finally, she talks about the change in their working methodologies after this collaborative experience:
We built many new relationships, and we cooperated with more organizations, with more families and tribes. We did something good for the community, and its impact on the organization was equally good.