Sevcik's Blog

A year in Cairo Egypt

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Fraternity Day--Dialogue Forum

On Friday I spent the day volunteering my photography skills at an event coined “Fraternity Day” led by a group of men and women, Muslims and Christians, and Egyptians and
non-Egyptians who believe diversity is richness. Their ‘organization’ (though not an official organization yet, but they are looking for sponsors) is called “Dialogue Forum.” As their mission statement explains, they are united by the wish to establish a dialogue that aims at spreading the message of fraternity, love and unity through acts of charity and social initiatives. Fraternity day was designed as a day of fun for children during the month of Ramadan. It included games, theatre, film, Sudanese folklore and an Iftar.
The moment I arrived for the event I noticed Fraternity Day was a very well thought-out and organized event. Everyone had color-coordinated name tags! (Name tags, in general, don’t exist in Egypt—it would take way too much planning time to get name tags set up!) Each child was put into a group, and each group was led by a volunteer. Every group had to have these demographics represented: Muslim, Christian, Egyptian, Sudanese, rich, and poor. (Some of the children came from one of the richest schools, while others were orphans or from the Garbage Village.) For most of these kids, it was their first time hanging out with someone of a different economic status or nationality, or even religious background. The whole experience made me feel like I was at camp. The volunteers were so passionate about spreading the idea of love and diversity, and they were great with the kids. The spirit of compassion and understanding filled the air and I felt safe with this group of people. The children felt it too—I’ve never seen a group of 100 + kids cooperate with each other so well. It was such a blessing!
Everything about the event was in Arabic, so I had to get an interpreter whenever I wanted to know what was going on. Throughout the day I kept hearing a particular chanting going on during every down moment or when a certain group would start screaming it out. What was the chant? The kids were yelling “All of us together can do something BIG!” My heart almost stopped when I found out. Amazing. These kids were really learning and experiencing a great community. By the end of the day I could see how they were realizing that we are all people, and in that way we are united. We all play the same games and experience the same goals and dreams and emotions. It’s powerful.
Father Henri Boulad (of the Holy Family School in Faggala I believe) gave a short speech ½ way through the day and the kids just ate it up. He asked the children, “What is the best color? Is it black? Brown? White? Yellow? Red?” The kids weren’t sure what to say. Then he asked them if it would be good if we were all one color. Some of them yelled out, “Yes!” Father Boulad then explained that no, we are made differently for a reason, and that is wonderful. We all have the same God who made us differently for a reason. He used the analogy of a family, explaining how we are different from our grandparents, how our mom is different than our dad, and we are different from our siblings. But, we are still a family and it’s good to be different! The kids really understood this and started yelling “Yes, and all of us together can do something BIG!”
There was also a theme song for the day that the kids learned and sang at the day’s closing. I asked for a translation and even though my interpreter apologized on and on for not really being able to translate well due to metaphors, here’s what I got: One hand alone cannot clap, A bird with a broken wing cannot fly. Take heart, speak without fear. You can rule the whole world. (verse 1) We were children wearing Kastor (a cheap material) Hardly holding onto our dreams by the thread in the light, Our dream grows and grows with every leap over the hurdle, if you search for your dreams you fill find it. (verse 2) If you are determined and persevere you will be whatever you want to be. Inside you there is power that can build the whole universe. Your dream is your country wherever you are. Put your dream in your heart and hold onto it tightly.

2 Comments:

  • At 10/24/2005, Anonymous Caroline van der Plas said…

    Hi Sarah! It's really nice to read your stories about Egypt! You're now in a sort of experience that I was last year in America. I see that you have a very good, powerful time there and I know that you learn a lot for the rest of your life.
    I have still moments that I am thinking about the Summercamp-time in Montana, because I learned so much about that.
    I am now studying to become a teacher and it goes very well. I counselled this year a camp in Holland for one week. I had a nice time during that week, because I the teenagers were touched by God.

    I wiss you good blessing from God in Egypt and I will pray for you.
    If you want to come in Holland when you're finished there, you are really very very welcome!!

    Nice greeting,
    Caroline van der Plas (The Netherlands)

     
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