Big dreams, bigger opportunities

“Meshwary” offers training opportunities for youth at Hilton Hotel.

Dalia Younis
“Meshwary” offers training opportunities for youth at Hilton Hotel
UNICEF/Egypt 2018/Mariam Soliman
18 July 2018

Cairo, Egypt - Ingy Helal is one of the 10 winners  of the Hilton's Thrive Sabbatical program. Ingy is a Procurement Application Manager at Hilton in Egypt, and was granted 1,000 USD in addition to a one month leave to work voluntarily to support a charitable project within her region.

Ingy chose the ongoing “Meshwary” project as her focus to support mainly young women to become leaders in the Middle East. Her objectives were supporting diversity and encouraging women in hospitality, presenting a pool of candidates to the labor market and developing and selecting best calibers to be offered jobs when available. These objectives go very much in line with the UNICEF commitment with USAID to further support the continuation of “Meshwary” Project.

“Meshwary” (My Journey), is a project implemented in partnership between UNICEF and the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MoYS). The project coaches girls and boys from 13 to 24 years old to become more empowered economically and socially. They receive training on life, employability and entrepreneurial skills. They also receive comprehensive career guidance services.

The first phase of the “Meshwary” project started in 2008 and lasted until 2011. Due to its success, the project entered a second phase from 2012 until 2016 and is now entering its third phase with the support of the USAID. A third phase initiated to continue the implementation “Meshwary” project until 2021. Within the framework of the USAID support, the project aims at expanding young people’s ability to make strategic life choices, increase their access to information and skills, with special focus on girl empowerment. These skills will have a marked impact on their ability to find a job.

To provide young people with further employability opportunities, and through UNICEF private sector partnerships, “Meshwary” expands its cooperation to include the private sector. This expansion aims at providing young people graduating from “Meshwary” with on-the-job training opportunities through different private sector companies. In this respect, the collaboration between UNICEF and Hilton in Egypt gives young people an opportunity of exposure to the work place and employment cultures.

“We are pleased that Ms. Ingy Helal chose volunteering her well-earned Hilton's Thrive Sabbatical program to work with young people”, said Bruno Maes, UNICEF Egypt Country Representative, adding that “UNICEF mobilizes its extensive partnerships and advocacy efforts to transform the risks and problems adolescent girls face on a regular basis. Empowering adolescent girls and giving them the opportunities they deserve leads to healthier families, strengthened economies, and more equitable societies”.

Dream big: from a small bakery to a five-stars pastry

“We almost have no access to opportunities here in the south, I was astonished to hear that “Meshwary” brought opportunities with such a big hotel chain just close by the youth center”, said Mostafa Mousa, one of the beneficiaries of “Meshwary” project in Aswan.

After obtaining his vocational diploma, 24-year-old Mostafa started working in different fields to make a living. He worked in agriculture, architecture, carpentry and bakery. He said it took him many years to find a job with both a good salary and a promising career.

Mostafa started his internship at Hilton Sharm Waterfalls Resort, Sharm El-Sheikh through his participation in “Meshwary” project. After graduating from “Meshwary”, and through the referral services, Mostafa was selected as one of the candidates of Hilton interns.

During the selection interviews, Mostafa was sure that he would make it through from Aswan to Sharm El-Sheikh. Enthusiast and persistent, Mostafa had a clear vision of his career path.“I will be a Chef in the Pastry and Bakery Department”, said Mostafa during the interns’ selection interviews.

“During only ten days here, I learned what I couldn’t learn for years through my different careers. I learned recipes, methods of kneading, baking, cutting and I learned to prepare different kinds of bread. Most importantly, after “Meshwary”’s trainings and this internship at Hilton Sharm Waterfalls Resort, I learned how to deal with people in a better way, which is at the core of the hospitality industry”.

Finishing his internship, and as he determinedly planned, Mostafa was offered a job at Hilton Sharm El-Sheikh in the Pastry and Bakery department.


“Meshwary” offers training opportunities for youth at Hilton Hotel.
UNICEF/Egypt 2018/Mariam Soliman

The girl with an axe

“I worked here with my heart, not my brain. I never heard the sentence ‘this type of work is not for girls’ which usually demotivates me at the beginning but then only makes me more resilient”, said 23-year-old Donia Zakareya who comes from Nubia, Aswan in Upper Egypt.

Donia studied at the Faculty of Agriculture at South Valley University, this was the last time she was involved in her field of study.

Now living in Qena, she attended the skills development training of “Meshwary” Project, which prepared her for the marketplace. Soon after, she got matched with an internship opportunity as a Landscaping Engineer at Hilton Sharm Waterfalls Resort. “I was thrilled to find an internship related to the field I love in Hilton. My highest expectation was trying a new field. Now, I have a better understanding of  the landscape’s design, can hold the axe myself and start working. I learned to use my bare hands to work, and I feel I can do everything myself”.

Finishing her internship, Donia was offered a job at Hilton Sharm Waterfalls Resort as a Landscaping Engineer.

Waking up before the alarm

“Since I came here, I wake up every day even before my alarm rings, eager to know what I will learn today!”, this is how 24-year-old Arwa from Aswan described her motivation towards her internship at Hilton Sharm Waterfalls Resort.

Arwa studied at the Faculty of Commerce at Aswan University and learned about “Meshwary” career guidance training and internship opportunity at Hilton on the Facebook page of the Youth Directorate in Aswan. She decided to take part in the training sessions and apply for the internship opportunity offered by Hilton to the graduates of “Meshwary”. Arwa was particularly interested in customer service.

Although her family was supportive, it was expected that they will have some concerns about letting her travel alone to Sharm El-Sheikh for the internship. She noted that the representatives from the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MoYS) were keen to speak to the families of the candidates to reassure them about the safety and security of the interns selected from “Meshwary” for Hilton Hotel internship opportunities.

She described how the meeting with Hilton, MoYS and UNICEF representatives had a great impact on her self-esteem. “At the beginning, I was a bit skeptical, thinking that in Hilton, they would see me as a young person and would not take me seriously. What happened was the complete opposite. I was respected, given trust, and I received positive and constructive feedback from all the people I met in the Youth Center in Aswan and at the hotel in Sharm El-Sheikh”.

Arwa was offered a job as a Front Desk Officer at Hilton Hurghada after she had finished her internship.

More dreams to fulfill

Following the great success of Ingy’s initiative that resulted in awarding jobs to 13 candidates after their internships, an agreement was signed by Mohab Ghali, Vice President of Operations for Egypt & North Africa at Hilton, and Bruno Maes, UNICEF Representative in Egypt; whereby Hilton will offer internships and on-job training opportunities to over 750 youth across its hotels in Egypt over the coming five years.

“As a long-running leader in the sector, we realize that quality hospitality services are best offered by empowered team members,” said Mohab Ghali, “our partnership with UNICEF in “Meshwary” Project is mutually beneficial. Not only will we offer guidance and support to the youth, allowing them to be more prepared for the job market, but we’ll also offer our valued team members a chance to share their knowledge and experience with passionate, budding hoteliers. We’re looking forward with much enthusiasm to kick off the initiative across our hotels”.

Within this partnership, Hilton will focus on marginalized youth, providing them with opportunities to enhance their skills and prepare them with relevant life skills that are requirements of the job market and future equity strength. The program will offer 45-day internships/job placement opportunities, where the participating youth will have the opportunity to shadow Hilton employees across the different operation departments including food & beverage, housekeeping, engineering, landscape, kitchen, front office and security.