Composting Workshop at Nawaya

March 5, 2012

Last Friday I participated in a composting workshop organized by Nawaya and held at their plot of land adjacent to Fagnoon.

Nawaya Composting Workshop

Nawaya Composting Workshop

The Nawaya team facilitating the workshop included:

  • Adam Molyneux-Berry
  • Sara El Sayed
  • Betty Khoury
  • Aurelia Weintz

Others attending the workshop were:

  • Lama El Hatow
  • Ahmed (from Chadouf)

The workshop included bucket composting, compost tea and regular pile composting. We got our hands dirty making the compost and it was a lot of fun!

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Resala and Street Children in Egypt

February 17, 2010

Having reached 10 years since the day of its establishment, Resala has now expanded its Children with a Future program targeting street children in Egypt.

Resala first started the program with a reception center at its Helwan branch two years back. After the success of the program there Resala has recently expanded its program with street kids in a number of its branches including its Maadi and Nasr City branches.

The program offers children with food, clothing as well as education at each reception center at the branches mentioned. Children also get to paint, draw, play and practice a number of fun and useful activities including trips. Resala volunteers accompany the kids, educate and supervise them.

Resala Kids

A Resala Kid

Resala Typing Day

April 5, 2009

Yesterday was the first Typing Day ever at Resala Nasr City. While sighted people can easily open a printed book and start reading it, the blind need the book to be printed in braille in order for them to be able to read it. While OCR software has gone a long way in converting printed text into computer readable text after scanning, yet most OCR software for the Arabic language have still a long way to go and produce a high error rate. The solution was to use ‘human’ OCR, a group of volunteers doing the typing of the printed books in order to be computer readable. The books then can easily be printed in braille for the blind to read or simply read on the computer using text-to-speech software.

The Nasr City branch of Resala came up with a creative idea which is to designate the first Saturday of each month and call it the typing day during which volunteers flock to Resala Nasr City from 1 pm to 9 pm and start collaborating on typing books for the blind. A nice twist on the monthly event that started only yesterday was to keep life track of how many pages each volunteer has written. This made the day the more exciting having volunteers competing for the highest number of pages being written.

Although I did not score highest in terms of number of pages typed, yet I really enjoyed the day. The nice thing for me also was that there was someone dictating me which made the process for me way easier. Actually five different people alternated dictating me one after the other. It was a fun and useful day. I can’t wait till next month when the second typing day is held.

For more information about the event check out the Facebook group for the Resala Typing Day.

A Trip to Fayed

October 26, 2008

Last Friday two volunteers and myself took a bus full of school students from in front of Resala, Nasr City branch, and off to Fayed. It was an amazing one-day trip. Despite the rain that started a few hours after noon, and ended shortly after that, the kids enjoyed the day greatly.

Fayed beach palm trees

Fayed beach palm trees

I was taken by the beauty of the chalet we stayed at the momen we set foot out of the bus. It was surrounded with a colorful garden not to mention the soul refreshing air that filled the place, a far cry from the highly polluted air of Cairo.

Boys laughing in water

Boys laughing in water

Token of Appreciation

October 19, 2008

Today was my first day delivering English language lessons to second secondary school students at Resala on a volunteer basis. I was delighted during the lesson to be blessed with such responsive students. It seems the students as well were happy to have me as their English teacher at Resala. I was rewarded near the end of the lesson with what I considered to be a sincere token of apprication. They insisted on giving me a pack full pack of it.

Mint Pack

Mint Pack

Resala Clothing Day 2008

September 30, 2008

During the month of Ramadan last year (2007), Resala aimed at collecting 100 thousand pieces of used clothes from people in Egypt through its 7 branches in Cairo and 2 branches in Alexandria. At the end of Ramadan last year, Resala exceeded its goal and actually collected 200 thousand pieces of used clothes!

During this Ramadan (2008), Resala tripled its last year’s goal and aimed at collecting 300 thousand pieces of used clothes. Yet again Resala exceeded its goal and actually collected over 1,000,000 (yes one million) pieces of used clothes in less than 30 days!

On the 29th of Ramadan, which was yesterday, Resala held 4 clothing exhibitions in Cairo where a tremendous amount of poor families were helped by hundreds of Resala volunteers to choose clothes for their families, 3 pieces for each member of their families, and take them for free.

Not all of the used clothes Rasala has collected was distributed during the Clothing Day, a large amount of it was given to 126 different charity organizations in Egypt during the month of Ramadan in order to give to other poor families under their care. Another part of the collected used clothse was distributed to poor families through Resala branches in Egyptian governorates other than Cairo.

During this month of Ramadan, Resala volunteers classified, washed and ironed around half a milion (500,000) pieces of donated used clothse. The rest of the one million pieces of donated clothes will be sold with very low prices to needy people in poor districts all over Egypt through small 3-day exhibitions held near their homes. Prices for each piece vary around 50 cents and $1 with a maximum of under $3 for the most expensive used clothses pieces. This practice gives the oportunity for poor families to take their time during the exhibition and select and choose what they want in any quantity they need. It gives them the feeling they are buying the closhes with their own money. It is a very affordable means to get clothses for members of their families. Being held near their homes also makes it even easier for them, since transportation could be a financial burden to them. The revenue from such low cost used clothes exhibitions Resala holds during the year are channeled into the various charity activities of Resala to help those who are in need in Egypt.

Who Needs to See?

August 16, 2008

Who needs to see? Imagine spending a full day without having the ability to see anything. How would that one day go? Now imagine spending the rest of your life like that. Now how does it ‘sound’?

Those of us who have been fortunate enough to have the ability to see with their eyes might find the thought of loosing their eyesight horrifying. Yet among us there are many who are completely or partially blind. Using assistive technologies and computers in particular has been a great aid to blind people, yet still human support goes a long way in making their lives easier and better.

Yesterday while at Resala, I was fortuante enough to be asked to assist a young lady in researching info online for her masters degree, the young lady hapenned to be blind. I entered the computer lab specially set for the blind at the Nasr City branch of Resala and spent some time with the young lady trying to help her out find info related to her masters thesis.

With some training, the blind are able to use computers well, provided that the computer is equiped with some reading program such as JAWS for instance. The reason why she needed me was not due to a lack of ability to use the computer, but she was just new to using the Internet and she also needed someone to help her with the English while searching online through websites written in the English language. After spending some time online, we managed to find several articles discussing topics related to her thesis. At the end, she thanked me a lot and I felt happy to be able to help.

If you have never had the chance to deal with the blind before and would like to try and help out a blind person, you may volunteer some of your time and come visit a Resala branch near you. Helping a blind person can be one way to express your greatfulness for being a sighted person. Call Resala now by dialing 19450 from anywhere in Egypt to get connected to the Resala branch nearest to where you’re calling from. Resala has 32 branches in Egypt.

Exploring Poor Families in Bani Sweif

July 13, 2008

Yesterday I was privileged to join a group of volunteers heading from the Nasr City branch of Resal to Bani Swief to explore some of the poor families at villages there.

On our way to Bani Swief, one of the more experience volunteers in the Poverty Assitance activity of Resala provided us with a brief training session on how to explore poor families.

SketchUp for the Deaf

April 20, 2008

Today I started delivering my first training session in SketchUp for a group of deaf students at Resala, Nasr City. I had previously been delivering SketchUp training to regular students yet it was my first time to deliver training in SketchUp to deaf people.

I was astonished with the speed by which they understood, digested and remembered the information. From the start, I assumed that SketchUp would be a perfect match to the deaf, since they rely heavily on their visual sense to perceive the world around them so effectively their eyes act as a double purpose for them, both as eyes and as ears. Nevertheless, I was still astounded by the speed by which they absorbed the information I was giving them. Their visual abilities are superb.

When teaching to regular students, I normally repeat what I say and show them how to do something in SketchUp more than once before asking them to do it. When teaching SketchUp to regular students, I also break complex or multi-step processes into smaller parts showing students how to go ahead with each part then asking them try repeating it themselves before I go ahead with the next part of the complex or multi-step process. With the deaf, all I had to do was just show them a long complex process for once only, and they were able to repeat it after me with no mistakes even though I did it in front of them only once and without breaking it down to smaller parts! I was surprised by this despite my initial understanding that they would be faster than others and more leaned towards such a visual program.

The interesting part today was that the teaching assistant who was actually doing most of the teaching instead of me today was a 17-year old girl who had Down syndrome! I had been delivering SketchUp training sessions to her once per week for the past 5 weeks or so and now she is teaching deaf students who are older than her!

Although I had previously started learning sign language yet I seem to have forgotten almost everything I had learnt. I sure need to brush up on my sign language skills. Despite of totally forgetting almost all the signs, I was able to communicate seamlessly with the deaf most of the time. When I got stuck, I asked the girl with Down syndrome to come to the rescue. Although she has not learnt sign language before, yet she seems to communicate with them, the deaf, with ease!

There is so much to discover and so much that can delight you if you just start thinking how others, who might be less fortunate than you in some regards, can be gifted in other areas in a way that surpasses you. Only by acknowledging this truth deep within your heart will you be able to bring up the real potential of those whom others might see as incapable.

Resala Trip to Alexandria

March 29, 2008

Three small buses full of deaf people, children with special needs, their families and volunteers and two Resala employees moved from in front of the Nasr City branch of Resala in Cairo yesterday heading to Alexandria. I was among the volunteers and we spent a great day over there visiting the citadel at Alexandria and spending some time on the beach.

Child at Beach

Alexandria Castle Cannon

Alexandria Castle

Gifted Child inside Citadel

Physalis in Egypt