Hello, I am Mikayla Wicks, a summer intern at the Tanweer Foundation for Education and Development. I am currently living and working in Minia, and have been here since the beginning of May. I will remain in Egypt until July 30, at which time I will return to finish my studies in Canada.
My first day on the job was a wonderful surprise. My boss, Mr. Magdy Aziz, seemed like a very nice man and my direct supervisor, Ms. Mariam Adly, was very kind. We discussed the work of the organization and the kind of duties that I would be performing. My tasks were to include the following:
-Research of donor organizations
-Conduct site visits to Tanweer’s local projects
Tanweer is an organization dedicated to promoting the awareness of children’s rights. Right now it is engaged in two large projects, the “Children’s Citizenship Project” and the “Activating Girl’s Right to Participate in Sports Project”.
The citizenship project operates in five schools in Minia, four of which are located in the poor villages of Damisher and Zahora. This program teaches children about their rights, according to the “International Convention on the Rights of the Child” and Egypt’s “Child Law”. Children are explained their rights according to these documents, and asked to express their understanding and interpretation of these rights using arts and crafts and other creative means. During these sessions children discuss the rights to which they feel entitled as well as their general feelings and comments on each law.
The program also incorporates parents and teachers through separate awareness meetings. In these meetings parents are instructed on the rights of their children and the responsibilities they owe their children as parents. Teachers are trained on how to incorporate human rights into their curriculum and how to encourage the respect of human rights in the class room.
I believe that this is a very effective approach in the advocacy and activism of human rights. Lessons on children’s rights seem less valuable if it is left to a small child to go home and tell his/her parents that he/she is entitled to be free from abuse. Parents need to be included in the learning process in order for real change to be made.
I have now conducted several site visits to these schools and have been amazed at what I see.
One very interesting case was a boy named Ahmed. For him, abuse is a necessary part of raising children. In his mind it is absolutely necessary to hit children in order to instill discipline and build character. It is children like Ahmed who are in most need of programs like the one offered by Tanweer. When a child believes that abuse is normal they will practice these behaviours when they themselves have children. This creates a cycle where the mistreatment of children is normal within society. Therefore, Tanweer is not only helping to educate Minia’s children, it is helping to create a new generation of parents who are more sensitive to human rights.
The “Activating Girl’s Right to Participate in Sports Project” operates in 30 schools in and around Minia. It is sponsored by both Nike and the Ashoka Foundation. The project organizes volleyball and football training for young girls. My site visits to the participating schools have been amazing. Many of the girls play very well, and those who don’t love to play despite their skill level. I think the true merits of the program lie in its role as a vessel for gender empowerment. This program is helping to break the stereotypes associated with girls in terms of sports, fitness, and society in general.
Tanweer is a very unique organization. In the vision of Tanweer people are people. Everyone is entitled to the benefits of development, human rights, and to a happy life. This is the spirit which Tanweer brings towards each of its many projects, and this is the spirit with which I want to enter my future career in the realm of development.