Archive for December, 2007

How to Grow Mushrooms

December 18, 2007

A few weeks ago, I attended a short yet concentrated course on how to grow mushrooms. I attended the training at the Food Technology Research Institute, a government funded research center in Egypt. The training continued for five days and involved both lectures and hand on practice.

Before attending that training, I scored the net for information about growing mushrooms. I did find a huge amount of information related to this in online forums, PDF files and regular web pages not to mention videos on YouTube discussing the matter. The most practical information perhaps was the one I found in online forums because it was from people who have had first hand experience in growing mushroom or trying to grow it. Despite the huge amount of information I found online about growing mushrooms, yet I kind of got lost a midst all this ocean of information. Moreover, I did not find a complete reference that nailed down the specifics and focused on the practical side specially in relation to growing mushrooms in Egypt.

Although I am a big fan of self learning and a strong believer in its merits, yet after attending that course in growing mushrooms at the Food Technology Research Institute, I came to the conclusion that nothing could beat the direct learning method which involves taking information from the people who have the practical experience as well as the scientific knowledge to back it. The training I attended was delivered by a group of researchers who are PhD holders as well as a consultant who worked in marketing mushrooms.

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Distributing Meet in Ezbet El Haggana

December 15, 2007

Today I went with a few volunteers from the Nasr City branch of Resala to Ezbet El Haggana taking with us bags of meet to distributed on poor families there.

Window and Brick Wall

It is only four days till Eid El Adha. While distributing the meet bags on poor families today, one of the guides who led us to the homes of those poor families told us that the price of meet is 30 LE per kg (in Ezbet El Haggana), something which poor families there cannot afford.

Ezbet El Haggana Child

Free Programming Course at Resala

December 13, 2007

A short while ago I started delivering an Introduction to Programming course at the Nasr City branch of Resala. Computer courses at Resala are for free and are delivered by volunteers.

Hello World

I really enjoyed delivering that course a lot. Attendees of the course were mostly students of the Faculty of Engineering, Al Azhar University which happens to be in Nasr City. Many of the volunteers at the Nasr City branch of Resala are from Al Azhar University, perhaps this is one good benefit of having the 32ed branch of Resala open in Nasr City in particular.

In the introduction to computer programming course, I focused on the fundamental concepts of programming using the C language as the vehicle upon which students would learn the basic concepts of programming. The course covered programming building blocks such as variables, loops, conditional statements, functions as we?l as mathematical, conditional and logical operators among other fundamental programming concepts.

I have also made some of the source code used during the labs available online at my Born Trainer website.

Resala Festival at Al Azhar Park

December 12, 2007

Yesterday I went with other volunteers from the Nasr City branch of Resala to Al Azhar Park. We took a bus from Resala then passed by an orphanage from which we took a number of orphans who were around two years old. We then headed up to Al Azhar Park. Another Resala bus brought another group of orphans from another orphanage. A group of the orphans were also handicapped. Among those who came with us for the trip were children with developmental disabilities.

Painted Face

The idea behind that day was to make orphans and children with disabilities feel happy, feel loved and spend a nice time at Al Azhar Park.

Volunteers Wearing Masks

Resala volunteers participated in various activities during that day to accomplish that goal. Two of Resala’s female volunteers sat down and painted faces of children which came to them one after the other to have their faces painted. Another two male volunteers slipped into animal masks and suits played and danced with the children who were very happy to see such colorful masks.

Group of Children

Music and songs played in the background while two groups of volunteers carried out some small competitions between the kids such as hopping while wearing a bag or while having one’s foot tied to that of another child. Winners got presents. We also had meals for the children. At the end there was some sort of show for the kids acted by volunteers, it was hilarious.

Children in a Line

Seeing the festivities and hearing the music, other kids who were at the park joined us. Although the two year old children were a bit drowsy the time we took them from their orphanage, on our way back from the Park they were extremely active and kept sining in the bus all sorts of children songs. It was amazing and for me perhaps was the best part of the whole day.

Girl holding Prize

Exploring Poor Families in Bani Sweif

December 9, 2007

On a Friday around a week ago, I went with other volunteers from the Nasr City branch of Resala in an exploratory visit to Bani Sweif to check the conditions of poor families at a village there. Bani Swief is at the beginning of Upper Egypt.

As the bus arrive at some village in Bani Sweif, we split in small groups. Each group consisted of one or two volunteers from Resala and a local guide from a local NGO at the village. The guides took us to homes of poor families. There, we entered their homes and looked at the conditions of their houses. We sat down briefly with each family inquiring about their conditions, asking them a few questions and filling a standard form supplied by Resala to all volunteers.

Bani Sweif NGO

Among the families I have visited were those who had not bathroom and those who had no proper walls for their houses (they covered the ceiling with some tree branches. One of the families my guide and I visited educated their children, their children went to school. That was the only family that did so and they mentioned it in a way that showed they are dong some sort of exception to the norm and they were proud of it. The rest of the families had none of their children (or themselves of course) educated. Of course washing machines and refrigerators were a luxury many could not afford.

Bani Sweif Farm

Despite the seemingly miserable condition of some of the families in that village, yet their life seemed relatively happy. They lived a simple life and ate fresh food from the farms between which they lived. Some of them had small black and white TV sets (some of which were working); several had radio casetts.After completing the exploratory visits and filling the forms, the head guide of the local NGO who brought us to the village invited us for dinner at his home. The taste of food there was amazing, everything fresh from the fields and cooked in the traditional Egyptian way.