Nasr and Youssef: friends united by their love of science
The Story of How Two Friends from Different Origins are Positively Impacting Each Other
On a sunny morning in Cairo, Nasr Mostafa, 11-year old from Sudan and Youssef Tarek, 12-year old from Egypt, were impatiently waiting to start their last day of training at UNICEF’s program End Violence Against Children (EVAC) in schools. The training they are attending aims at advocating against violence by engaging students on how to identify violent acts and stop them from spreading.
From the start, Nasr and Youssef were obviously inseparable: their passion for science, their enjoyment of football and their love of jokes united them in smiling dynamic duo. They somehow complete each other, despite the significant difference in their personality. Nasr tends to be a bit shy, while Youssef is more talkative. What also makes this friendship special is the fact that Nasr is of Sudanese origin. He has been living all his life in Egypt along with his parents and was fully integrated, partly thanks to Egypt’s welcoming culture.
Both Nasr and Youssef enjoyed and learned from the training, especially when it came to identify one’s personal space. “I knew nothing before about personal space. For example, I learnt that I should keep an arm distance between myself and the person I am talking to avoid making him or her feel uncomfortable. Now I have the chance to inform my peers on this”, added Nasr.
The friendship between Nasr and Youssef started two years earlier. “I love meeting new people and talking to them. Nasr was sitting beside me during a test, we talked and became friends in a blink” said Youssef, recalling his first encounter with Nasr. “I usually do not get along with my peers, we often don’t have the same mindset. For instance, I love science and learning new stuff every single day, while my peers prefer to play around. Nasr understood that and accepted me, that’s why I love hanging around with him.” Nasr then immediately jumped in and added that he learns from Youssef every single day. “Yousef knows everything! He is just kind-hearted, and I learn a lot from him.”
The two friends have also set their minds on their future careers. Nasr is passionate about robotics and information technology and hopes that one day he will become a computer engineer to build lots of advanced devices while Youssef dreams of joining NASA and discover the secrets of the universe. “Doctor Farouk El Baz is my model and I want to be just like him.” Doctor Farouk El Baz is an Egyptian space scientist who worked with NASA, to assist in the planning of a scientific exploration of the Moon.
After sharing their dreams and goals, Nasr and Youssef imagined for a minute if both were able to work together in the future, considering that their interest mainly revolves around science and technology. “it would be awesome if we worked together!” said Nasr, while Youssef was nodding. Nasr and Youssef story is a shining example of support, acceptance and respect among children and young adults, a morale that is highly supported by UNICEF, which will later develop and reinforce a child’s self-confidence.
EVAC at schools is a UNICEF supported program, implemented with the generous contribution of USAID, that focuses on establishing child protection systems in schools and involves the students in the protection program. Additionally, the program works on the development of code of conducts in cooperation with the teachers and the school staff.
Every year the school selects up to 45 students to train them in knowing their rights, how to express themselves, types of abuses and how to stop them, as well as developing effective communication skills. These students should then transfer their knowledge to their peers at school, which encourages an environment of cooperation among the students and forms a special connection between the students and their school and create a safe environment for students to learn and grow.