Volunteerism, a concept that has recently resurfaced despite it being rooted in many religions, remains alien to a lot of Egyptians, particularly those who inhabit the rural, marginalized areas of the country. In an attempt to spread this idea, 30 volunteers from across continents and ages took part in a two-week project designed to spread the spirit of volunteerism, mobilize members of a small community and encourage them to become active contributors to their society.
Through carrying out a number of projects we were not only able to deliver that message, but we mobilized a group of five individuals who are starting up their own organization (they are now volunteering every Friday) and built a relationship with an entire community.
Farafra is home to some 4,000 people. The mud brick houses, its narrow roads and the rarity of cars give it a unique character. There is one main road in Farafra, along which is situated the hospital, city council, library and a couple of schools.
It was around September 2008 when I visited Farafra with the four other staff members of the IPP, the International People’s Project It wasn’t the first time for me in the oasis, however; I’ve been involved in Farafra since December 2006. During the September trip we met with members of the community, both formally and informally. We met with young, enthusiastic leaders, government officials as well as key figures. Along with a group of young Farafroni volunteers, we were able to draft our vision, set our goals and work out a plan. We decided three projects: small-scale construction, reviving a social center for the Farafroni women and planning mini-camps for the children.
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