One of Egypt’s community service pillars, Azza Kamel, started her small community-based NGO 16 years ago, intending to teach underprivileged c§hildren of Zelzal district the beauty of art, and shape their personalities into mirroring the brightness of creativity.
At the time, she never had in mind that she is a little over a decade later, with the help of others, would impact over 6,550 young men and women, whom lives were positively flipped upside down just by walking into the place of Alwan Wa Awtar.
Located in the heart of Mokkatam’s underprivileged area, Zelzal, Al Qalyubia’s rural district, Kafr Hamza, and Kafr El-Sheikh’s Ezbet El-Nasr informal settlements. Alwan Wa Awtar acts like a gateway which allows both children and mothers’ to escape from poverty and the ongoing struggle of unfordable life errands.
The NGO helps children from the age of three till 15, to enhance their culture, art skills and education, through six different programmes, accessible to children from all social classes for free enrollment.
The NGO was established in 2005 and started its actual work a year later. It kicked off with only one development programme to teach children art, over the years, it expanded to reach for thousands of young generations, with six different development curriculums.
“We just started with one programme at our main building in Mokattam, and one led to another over the years, until we reached to six mega programmes for children,” said Sarah Haddad, Alwan Wa Awtar’s business development officer.
Arts, Community Libraries, Live and Learn, Youth Montessori Child Corner, Psychosocial Support, and Free Space, are the main six programmes in Alwan Wa Awtar’s schedules.
At the Arts programme, children are invited to practice different varieties of art performances that enhance their creativity and personal skills.
“We teach students contemporary dancing, choir singing, children pottery, storytelling, as well as playing on musical instruments,” Haddad explained.
Through the Live and Learn programme, children are encouraged to express themselves in a safe place which allows them to develop and explore.
Psychosocial Support is one of the main programmes that Awtar Wa Alwan offers to its enrolled children. Through it, they offer their students to share their life struggles, supporting them with tools to overcome these struggles. The programme is applied in partnership with specialised institutions that provide the NGO with professional psychiatrists.
“It does not only offer psychosocial support to children, but it also extends to reach to women and youth as well. It aims to offer them a safe space to express their feelings, fears, and seek the possible solutions to assist them to overcome them with the help of art and workshops,” Haddad explained.
Mothers are also included in the programmes of the NGO. Through A’det Setat (Women’s Gathering) the mothers of the enrolled children come to have a weekly meeting in which they learn new skills and handicrafts.
“It was not so hard for parents to start noticing the impacts of our programmes on their children, even if they come from lower social classes, they started showing up requesting to be enrolled at our programmes as well, leading them to create the A’det Setat programme,” Haddad asserted.
So far, the A’det Setat programme managed to teach over 150 mothers new handicrafts.