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A Guide for Volunteers by Volunteers Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Yara Kassem, Egypt Oct 1, 2004
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A Guide for Volunteers by Volunteers In the year 1952, and in the middle of the violent political events taking place in Egypt: the British colonization's violations against the Egyptian people; corruption by the royal regime; the suffering of lower classes in the Egyptian population and the increase in their poverty. A group of young officers in the Egyptian army succeeded in reshaping the future of Egypt and the Arab world, by having led a revolution against the royal regime, having some goals to implement the most important from it was freedom to Egyptian people and their well being.

Let me share with you some of the 1952 revolution?s goals in relation with development:
-Agricultural restoration (i.e., taking a part from the huge agricultural lands belonging to rich people and giving it to the poor people to seed it)
-Realizing social justice
-Free education for all Egyptians
-Improvement of the Egyptian economy (creating an Egyptian heavy machinery industry)

Now, and after 22 years, Egypt needs its youth again to participate in the process of development and work hard on making this country a better place for the sake of their future and their well being.

There are more than 120 NGOs (non governmental organizations) working in Cairo for development and human rights, aiming to eradicate extreme poverty amongst lower classes in the Egyptian population, achieve education for all Egyptians, improve Egyptians' health and well being and raise awareness about their political, economic, social and cultural rights.

Unfortunately there;s a lack for networking and communication between those NGOs, and between them and millions of Egyptian youth willing to volunteer their time, their efforts, their energies and their skills to enrich the process of development in Egypt.

Since the year 2001, the International Year for Volunteers, I started working along with the United Nations Volunteer (UNV) program in Egypt with a number of volunteers on strengthening and coordinating the communication between the different parties of the development process, through the International Volunteer Day known in Egypt as the Open Volunteer day.

Admist preparations for the next Open Volunteer Day in December 2004, we started this project called "Cairo Guide for Volunteers". It's a joint project between the UNDP and the NGOs service center in Cairo. This guide should include the most 100 active NGOs in Cairo and the volunteer opportunities in those NGOs, classified by field of work through its relations with the Millennium development goals. This guide aims to help youth and volunteers who are willing to volunteer and participate in the process of development but they don?t know their way. This guide for volunteers should be available to all youth during the next Open Volunteer day in December 2004.

"A guide for volunteers by volunteers"--that was our motive. We selected a group of field researchers that I'm supervising, mainly students and fresh graduates with experience in volunteering--so they'd understand the efficiency of this project for their peers, and work with passion on providing this guide with all possible volunteer opportunities- to research NGOs using volunteers in Cairo.

We divided the 120 NGOs between us through geographical areas and we designed a questionnaire that the contact person in each NGO should fill, which contains the information we need to include in the guide and most importantly the volunteer opportunities for youth and the areas in which they can help.
Jos頎avarro, the UNV program officer in Cairo, talks about the idea for the guide: the headquarters of UNV in Bonn had asked me to do a catalogue for NGOs to be ready during the next OVD (Open volunteer day), but to tell you the truth, I didn't like the idea of a catalogue. What I had in mind was a user friendly guide, exactly like the Cairo dining guide. When I feel hungry I look at this guide and the type of food I want to eat. Then I browse the contacts of the restaurants and go for it. It's exactly the same here: a volunteer browses this guide by the field of work of the NGO he wants, then gets its contacts and contacts them to volunteer.

Personally, I had a very interesting experience during the field work, even though my work was focused in Northern Cairo, which is considered one of the most difficult areas to research as it contains a lot of popular and poor areas, a lot of slums as well as some sophisticated places.

On my first day, I had an appointment in an NGO working on the development of a local community in Shubra ElKheema in the city of Kalyoobiya (which is considered a part of Greater Cairo: Cairo, Guiza and Kalyoobiya). It actually took me an hour on the subway as it was the last station.

And on the subway, in the middle of that suffocating crowd, it's hard to move, to breathe and even to think, but I got the opportunity to observe and analyze, looking at those faces: people from all standards, mothers, workers, beggars, students.

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Yara Kassem

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for the Good cause
Shavkatjon | Oct 10th, 2004
Hi Angel, I think this work of yours with creating guide of volunteers is indeed one valuable source for youth. I hope it will be posible to share it either online or hard copy with NGOs outside Egypt too, as there are interests in establishing and developing cooperation and exchange. Your work and Writings have always been source of inspiration and ideas. Keep your Creativity and Energy nurturing and proseper. Cheers

Ricky | Oct 8th, 2004
I like your insight on volunteering!

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