The LP4Y Egypt Opening Team arrived in Cairo 3 months ago. Roxane tells us more about her first steps in the country!
Rox de Beaucorps, Cairo, Egypt
It’s been more than three month since I arrived in Cairo. On our flight from Beirut, Max and I were so excited to finally reach our final destination and start our mission. We were lucky enough to spend one month in Lebanon, meeting the Youth from TDC Beirut and helping the GV Lebanon opening team! I was glad to discover Lebanon, despite the critical situation the country currently faces. Repetitive electricity cuts and gas penuries are making their mission even more tricky than it already is. Catalysts there are demonstrating amazing resilience, they truly inspired me. After almost one month in France following the end of my Indian mission, I was so happy to come back on the field! My determination and energy had never been higher. I felt, and still feel, totally lucky to be part of this amazing opening adventure.
As soon as we arrived in Cairo, I experienced similar sensations as the ones I had experienced during my first days in Delhi. Cairo is a massive city, crowded with a great diversity of people. It awakens all of your senses: the smell of pollution and kebabs, the unchanging cacophony of horns, the heat are part of Cairo’s DNA. And I loved it at first sight. Throughout our days of exploration in the city, I got to know its multiple faces. Chill cafes are rubbing shoulders with busy streets, where vans, tuk tuks and taxis are racing against each other. The smell of Turkish coffee lines up with the one of grilled meat and fried falafels. The call to prayer resonates 5 times a day, filling the city with its harmonious melody. Palm trees are edging big avenues and places. Each neighborhood seems to have its own architectural style: Downtown enjoys its old authentic buildings, Zamalek Island is home to massive skyscrapers while remote areas like Ezbet el Nackl or Dar as Salam mostly shelters unfinished buildings of red bricks. Pyramids are the historical guardians of GIzeh, majestically bursting the sky. It is very hard to describe Cairo’s general atmosphere: like most of the developing cities, paradoxes are everywhere, and that is actually what makes it so endearing.
Since our arrival, we have been working hard on developing the project. Together with Reham and Max, we have been meeting different kinds of people working towards the professional and social inclusion of Youth in the country. We got the chance to meet both with international and local NGOs. Their experience and knowledge of the Egyptian context are always so interesting, as they all have their own field of expertise and recommendations. Those encounters are crucial to this initial phase of the project: opening a new LP4Y country is not about implementing our pedagogy. It is about developing a deep understanding of the local context, and more generally of the country. This implies learning about Egypt’s history, its geography as well its political and economic context. On top of those fascinating topics, we are slowly discovering the country’s specific issues: the place of women in society, the thin distinction between the legal and religious worlds, and the government's omnipotence. We are diving deep into those subjects, which will surely be at heart of our mission with the Youth. I cannot wait to open our center, and welcome our first batch of Youth. Because even though the different pieces are slowly beginning to make sense, the best way to understand the local context and challenges is through discussing with the Youth. At the moment, I feel like I’m missing the hidden part of the iceberg. We are lucky, because Egyptians are so very welcoming to us. Despite the language barrier, they are so friendly and always happy to chat. During our first mapping sessions in slums, we always get to meet all types of people, and I love that. As usual, children are always the easiest one to talk to first. Play football in the street of Dar as Salem with a dozen of excited kids, riding in tuk tuks in Manshiat Nasser, enjoy a mango juice in small achwas across the street, walking Cairo every which way, looking at the sunset from Saddat’s bridge. I cherish those small moments that compose our everyday life.
My mission in Egypt is just starting, and I hope to keep learning about this wonderful country every single day. This second chapter of my LP4Y journey is challenging and full of new experiences. I’m lucky enough to have a wonderful team with me. I never thought I’d end up here at 23. Just like India made me grow at full speed, I expect this one to be fulfilling and full of surprises. Stay tuned!