2 blossoming dreams from Kafr El-Sheikh
2 inspiring stories from Meshwary project beneficiaries
Cairo, Egypt – “I learned sign language from a hearing-impaired person, not at school”, said Aya to UNICEF during her participation in the Youth Camp that took place in Abu Qeer Youth City, Alexandria.
Aya studies at the Faculty of Education with a major in ‘special needs’. She chose that major intentionally, but learning sign language was totally unplanned.
The silent surprise
“One day I was visiting my mother’s workplace at the youth center in Kafr El-Sheikh, and I came across that group of people who, as I was told, were deaf and mute”, Aya said, “I was talking about them with no expectations that any of them would get what I was saying, when suddenly I found one of them responding in a way that implied he had understood what I said!”.
Aya felt confused and asked him directly if he understood what she was saying. With a lot of difficulty, he answered with few words from which she understood that he actually did!
“It was amazing to know that he has been almost deaf his entire life, yet his father didn’t give up on him knowing that there’s hope to have a cochlear implant that can improve his hearing and ultimately allow him to start talking”.
The teen’s father was keen on teaching his son sign language and lip reading. He mastered both and became able to help other children with the same condition. When he finally had a cochlear implant, his hearing improved and he was finally able to say few words and better communicate with others.
“We decided to meet on weekly basis so he can teach me sign language, he’s a great teacher and inspiration” Aya said.
One of Aya’s dreams is to enhance her skills while she’s still in college so that when she graduates she can help children with special needs in governorates outside Cairo where the services are either too expensive or with low quality.
Through UNICEF's ongoing adolescent and youth development programme namely “Meshwary” (My Journey) Project, Aya was nominated to take part in the International Youth Day (IYD) Camp in Abou Qeer, Alexandria. “Meshwary” is being implemented in partnership between UNICEF and the Ministry of Youth and Sport and with the support of The Italian Cooperation so as to combat irregular migration. It coaches young people (13-24 years old) to become more empowered economically and socially by training them on life, employability, and entrepreneurial skills and providing them with career guidance.
Participating in this camp was a step towards her dream because of the great exposure she had.
The camp focused on capacity building activities, edutainment and interactive discussions to enable and prepare the young people to be effective/active citizens. They are also supported to engage on solutions for real-life scenarios.
During this camp, several UN agencies organized sessions on different topics targeting youth. UNICEF organized a series of sessions on life skills and employability facilitated through the trainers of ‘Meshwary’ project.
6 hours of daily commute
From the same governorate, Kafr El-Sheikh, but from a different city came Nermeen who participated with Aya in the camp.
Nermeen lives in Qalleen, Kafr El-sheikh and studies at the Faculty of Commerce at Alexandria University. It takes her 2 hours to commute from home to the university. Sometimes, she’s able to stay at the house of some relatives, and sometimes she must commute for another 2 hours back home.
In summer, instead of taking a break from all this transportation hassle, she’s even more active to develop herself and 2 more hours are added to her daily commute.
She told UNICEF while tying her shoes: “These sneakers commute with me for 6 hours daily. I consider them my development buddies”.
With very limited training opportunities in Qalleen, Nermeen was eager to find a training in other cities in Kafr El-Sheikh governorate or even in Alexandria. UNICEF Egypt and the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MoYS), with the support of the Italian Cooperation are prioritizing poor and low-income districts in five governorates (among which is Kafr El-Sheikh) for the implementation of the third phase of ‘Meshwary’ [My Journey]. Nermeen was one of the graduates of “Meshwary” who were nominated to take part in the camp.
Nermeen pursues her career aspirations and seeks every avenue to develop herself. This summer, she was accepted as in intern in a bank in Kafr El-Sheikh and got herself enrolled in a couple of career-building courses in Alexandria.
“It is super-tiring” she admits, “yet I must stand out among other graduates. Thousands graduate each year from my faculty across the country, what would make anyone hire me in specific if I don’t have unique skills?”.