Rising Voices, in collaboration with the Heinrich Böll Foundation , is pleased to announce the 3 newest members to join its global community of citizen media projects.  Each of the 3 will receive microgrants to implement their proposed project. This round of microgrant funding was the first to be specifically targeted for an individual country, and in this case, all 3 of the projects are based in Egypt. After the call for proposals was announced in April 2010 , we received 42 applications in both Arabic and in English from groups all across Egypt, who saw the need for teaching underrepresented groups how to use citizen media tools for a wide range of activities. These proposals included projects to teach digital storytelling, advocacy work, and to raise awareness about a specific topic or population.
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Please welcome the following projects, which will soon begin their work to bring new Egyptian voices to light. Over the next month, we'll be introducing you to each of the 3 grantees in more depth, and tell you about their vision and why they feel their project is needed.
Mokattam Blog Tales
In 1992, a powerful earthquake hit the city of Cairo , in which 370 lost their lives, many more left injured, and even more were left displaced. Out of that tragedy, thousands of residents picked up and started over, settling in an area which is now the neighborhood of Masaken Alzelzal – Alhadba Alwosta (which can roughly be translated to Earthquake Neighborhood), located near the prominent Mokattam mountain . Now, it is a bustling suburb of the Egyptian capital with a growing population.
This colorful neighborhood is plagued by the usual societal problems of many large metropolitan areas, such as a lack of job opportunities and struggles to obtain basic services. However, there is much more to this neighborhood than meets the eye, and the project Mokattam Blog Tales will work with teenagers of the area to tell the story of their community.
Nesma Geiwely of the Namaa Initiative will partner with the NGO Alwan & Awtar , who will show the youth in the area how they can use citizen media tools like digital cameras, video cameras, and blogs to use their creative talents in the performing arts to express themselves. In addition to capturing the essence of daily life in Mokattam, the youth will interview local residents and show a different side of life in this Cairo suburb.
Nazra for Feminist Studies: Exploring Taboos
The topics of gender equality, sexual diversity, appropriate male/female interactions, and other related topics are often taboo subjects in Egypt. Some hold the opinion that these topics are best left to be spoken about in private, if at all. Nevertheless, this subject matter is of importance to many other Egyptians, who feel that there is a need to discuss these topics because they affect their daily lives. A Cairo-based organization called Nazra for Feminist Studies  aims to provide a safe place for women and men to discuss these issues, and for them, there is no better place to address these topics freely and frankly, than through the use of blogs and online forums.
Mozn Hassan, Doaa Abdelaal, Ramy Raoof, Fatma Emam and Bassam Mortada will lead the project Tankeeb fil Tabohaat, which means “Exploring Taboos”, by holding a series of discussions to help identify Egyptians interested in writing about these topics in online spaces. With the help and support of experienced Egyptian bloggers, the members of Nazra will teach Egyptians how they can express their thoughts and feelings on these subjects and hold meaningful conversations with others, while maintaining their privacy if needed.
The hope is that these conversations will open the doors for others from Egyptian society to join in these conversations and lower the stigma of discussing these issues with one another, and in addition, can provide safe spaces to share experiences and knowledge on these topics.
Women of Minya Day by Day
Women working as daily or informal laborers in the Minya Governorate  in Upper Egypt face many difficulties and obstacles. For one, these women, who work in agricultural, domestic, or manual labor jobs, often do not enjoy the benefits and legal protections of those workers with regular employment. They are often prone to wage disputes, discrimination, and higher levels of poverty.
There are NGOs working in Minya, who provide literacy classes, job-skills training, and counseling for this population of women. The New Woman Foundation  aims to add citizen media training to the services offered to the women, as a way to raise awareness of their status and to be a first step towards increased advocacy for these women and thousands of others just like them.
Nevin Ebeid, who has worked extensively with this rural population and has conducted academic research on their situation, will lead a series of workshops, where she will show a group of these women, how to tell their stories using digital citizen media tools. In addition to the workshops, a conference will be held for the community, where the women can showcase their work and tell others about their lives as daily and informal laborers.
Please join us in welcoming these 3 newest members of the Rising Voices community.