The holy month announces itself…
Driving my car through the tiny streets of AlMokattam district,, the car goes through the ups and downs of the unpaved streets… I drove slowly in order not to hit a running child or the groceries stretched at the shop fronts.
I smile when I see Ramdan Decorations hanging between the buildings… for a second I smell my childhood essence at my grandmother's house in Manyal… Ramdan is different in the old and relatively poor districts.. it's more vivid and sensual here than in my home place.
I park my car and walk to Alwan and Awtar (A&A) building… Today is my first meeting with Azza Kamel the founder A&A and the team who will be working on the project.
Mahmoud welcomed me.. I have known Mahmoud sine 2007 and he is one of my favorite writers.. that's why I asked Mahmoud to join our project to teach the youth we are working with ” creative writing classes” The aim of these classes is to use writing as an expression tool through documenting the daily life through articles and stories.. He invited me to a cup of tea and we had an intimate conversation till Azza finished her meeting and was available to talk to me.
She was wearing my favorite color combination… white chemise and beige pants.. Although it was my third time to meet Azza, I failed to determine her age…. She looks very young, but when she talks.. I felt the time growing in her eyes… I don't know but I felt comfortable as if I was talking to my mother or sister.
Azza listened to my presentation on the project.. She said that she liked the idea when she read it in our previous emails. she took the conversation into more practical point… how many participants the project will include.. what kind of support do I need from the NGO and how can we select the appropriate participants.
We agreed upon holding an orientation session about the project to different groups of youth enrolled in the NGO activities and to make some sort of personal interview with those who show intrest to join our project.. I think that our resources can cover like 15 to 20 participants. We agreed upon holding this orientation session on Saturday.
While I was talking to Azza, Seif arrived… His face was flushed of the heat outside and the heavy bag on his back… He dropped the bag and sat next to me.. Azza welcomed him.. and I introduced him as a perfect photographer.. he smiled and took a sip of the water glass that Mahmoud brought to him.
Azza asked me if I want anything else.. I thanked her and promised to meet her soon.
I turned to Seif and smiled… Sief is that kind of persons who bring alot of happiness everywhere he goes. He is 18, studying applied arts and you can hardly find him without his camera.
Seif listened to me while I was talking about the project. I told him that I met the group of youth who we are going to be working with in a workshop last February.. that I was amazed at their artworks and that I felt along our training process that they feel detached from their space..
I told him that I plan to work on two threads with them.. the first thread is the story telling thread. I mean.. we will have a weekly story telling class.. in which we are gonna choose a word to tell our stories about.. for example,, family, friends, love, authority, dream, religion and places we love. From the stories, we can figure out life.. and from the stories.. we will have a very rich material to write about.. to capture in photos and videos or even to tell in sound clips.
And here comes the 2nd thread… the writing, photography and videography classes.
we paused for a second then he asked: ” why do you want them to tell their stories?”
- ” to discover their relation with their place and surrounding” I answered promptly.
He seemed unconvienced and then asked: ” and why do you want them to discover their relation to their place… this might be uncomfortable if they couldn't accept it.”
I paused.. as if I was for the first time thinking of his words… I finally said ” I'll be talking now about Nesma.. not about Mokattam or the youth here… I started to know myself through stories.. stories I tell to the others about myself and my life.. and stories others tell me about theirselves and their lives.. I began to notice my abilities and layers… I knew that I love Manyal more than nasr city where I'm living now.. I knew that when I smile while I'm talking about my grandmother's house… I knew that I'm kinda of a quiet person who preferes genuine things to modern ones. I needed to know to be able to act.. I needed to know to be who I am now.”
Agroup of children entered the place.. some of them came to talk with us… we then changed our place to be able to concentrate in planning for the photography class.
This was all for today.. will be back after the orientation session to tell the second tale 🙂