The Path to Empowerment
Azhar’s journey with "Meshwary" program is taking a positive turn making her more influential in her community
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"Back when I was at school, Ms. Ehsan visited our school to talk to us about “Meshwary”. She encouraged me to develop my skills."
In 2018, Azhar Mousa was a teenage girl living in Idfu, an Upper-Egypt village in Aswan. One day, her school announced a visit by a trainer from “Meshwary” to introduce the program and invite all girls to join. Azhar describes this visit as "a radical life-changer".
“Meshwary” is a program supported by UNICEF in cooperation with the Ministry of Youth and Sports funded by the Netherlands, the Swiss Development & Cooperation and USAID in several governorates to train young people and youth to become more economically and socially empowered.
At the age of 19, Azhar ran the first-of-a kind pudding business in her village. To attract more customers by tackling their special dietary needs, she created fasting-friendly pudding for Christians by replacing dairy ingredients with fresh fruit juice. Azhar’s unique pudding made her famous in her village and surrounding areas.
Azhar says she learned about feasibility studies, customer needs and entrepreneurship at such a young age through “Meshwary”, which was very helpful in making her project a success.
On life skills, she says: "Meshwary taught me to self-confidence and love, and how to communicate well to make people like me."
In 2022, Azhar was selected by the program to be among Meshwary's Ambassadors. The Meshwary Ambassadors Program aims to train cadres of beneficiaries to become trainers for the age group 10 to 14 years. Young ambassadors work with children and teens through workshops in youth centers in different governorates. They are trained on how to deal with this age group to develop their personal skills for better communication with others and job readiness in the future. They also work on their creativity and innovation skills and encourage them to engage in group and voluntary work.
UNICEF and the Ministry of Youth's “Meshwary” team are watching with admiration Azhar as a trainer at one of the youth training at the Aswan Youth Centre. The very same team that witnessed her as a beneficiary and young entrepreneur years ago.
Because of the small age difference between Meshwary ambassadors and the teens and children they train, it is easy to communicate and build bonds. Children feel that their trainers were sitting at their chairs not very long ago, which enhances their self-confidence and hope to develop their skills as quickly as these ambassadors did. "When they chose me as an ambassador, I was full of both happiness and a sense of responsibility. I could be delivering information and ideas to a child whose mind and life would be changed like mine. "
Azhar is now studying at the Faculty of Commerce. In addition to running her own business, she also volunteers on many initiatives as a Meshwary ambassador such as food supplies distribution with the Egyptian Food Bank.