Sameh Nasim

Produced by: Reem Maghribi
Part of the Curated Collection: Multi-ethnic and -religious cooperation,
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Interview Location: Egypt
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Sameh Nasim, from the Masr Tobia workshop (an offshoot of the Ibrahimia Media Center), talks to us about their project to promote a culture of peace and acceptance of the other among children:

Masr Tobia is a project aiming to promote a culture of peace and acceptance of the other among children and adolescents, and one of our big achievements was having children from Arab tribes attending workshops alongside children from Nubian tribes. With its mere existence, the Masr Tobia project was able to break this attraction-repulsion relationship that exists in our society, through the participation of children from both Arab tribes and Nubian tribes within the same workshop.

On the meaning of participation in a pluralist project:

It’s easy for organizations to work on pluralism, trying to raise awareness on the subject and teach it to others. But it’s vital and in fact more important to provide a real-life example of it to our communities. All of us gathered to create, together, an example of coexistence that we could show to our society. And it was an excellent opportunity to work on the sustainability of this community we created; an implicit message to show that we, as the partners organizing the workshop, are all different and yet managed to benefit this society by bringing together volunteers and people in the managerial ranks of various organizations and associations.

On the selection criteria for partners for the project and their roles:

The first principle for us is that we be always open, open in our hearts and minds, even before being administratively and creatively open. And we ask the same from our partners: a willingness to cooperate and a real belief in what we’re working on, not just an activity to put down on the resume. We believe in a cause that we want our partners to believe in as well, and we want that we are all open to one another as partners rather than donors and beneficiaries. We want to discuss issues as partners and we welcome every contribution, while also taking into account the administrative and artistic capabilities of our collaborators so that they might help us, in the way required by the workshop, to have a complete example and experience.

On the obstacles they faced while implementing the project:

This project took place in the wake of a violent sectarian incident between the Nubian and Arab tribes. We had been very afraid of friction or disturbance, because any small thing that happened between the children by chance or unintentional accident could have huge consequences. So this was one of our big challenges. What created such a successful environment at the Masr Tobia workshop was the awareness of its organizers and the efforts of its volunteers. We provided the children with a peaceful and safe environment that offered them an exit from the atmosphere of violence and polarization into a space of openness with one another.

As for the project’s impact on the working methodology at the Ibrahimia Center:

The project didn’t just leave an impact on the Ibrahimia Media Center, but all the partners we worked with. I’d like to say that this successful example of pluralism imbued us with a great sense of confidence that we must open our hearts before we open the way to cooperation. Because we are able to partner up with organizations run by people who have different religious backgrounds, and we can partner up with those from other cultures, and now we have great confidence in the potential success of such collaborations.