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Alashanek ya Baladi: Own your own charity

Alashanek Ya Balady Association for Sustainable Development (AYB-SD) is a youth NGO based in Egypt which promotes the notion that individual efforts can effectively eradicate Egyptian poverty. This principle led to the establishment of the first AYB student club in 2002 at the American University in Cairo (AUC).

Raghda al-Ebrashy, who holds a PHD in research management, is the founder of AYB. She developed her ideas after a moment of enlightenment that radically changed her perception of the world. She was only 12 years old at the time. It all happened during a school trip to Bel-bayes, Sharqiya.

There she met with a very miserable family, which led her to think, "How can people take everything for granted, even the precious roof that provides them with shelter? Everything is questionable in life and nothing is secure." Her reaction became action when she decided to establish the first AYB club.

The success of AYB at AUC led Raghda to start up AYB as an NGO in 2005, while keeping the club on campus. AYB was also established at other universities, including Ain Shams University and the German University in Cairo. More importantly, AYB went on to expand its business by heading different schools to attract different generations, to ensure students would be able to accomplish their tasks through their university organization.

Breaking the wall of separation between the upper and lower segments of society and achieving total reform is the ultimate goal of AYB, with development the means. The AYB franchise aims to change people, specifically university students at first, through training them to become active players and change agents instead of simply giving money to the poor.

The AYB creates young social entrepreneurs and activists capable of managing and guiding development programs, leading teams, solving community problems, and fundraising to sustain their organizations.

Sara Zaki, HR assistant at AYB, says the organization takes a family-based approach to development, based on the idea that focusing on the comprehensive development of families in poor communities will eventually lead to social change. This is done through organizing art expression and human development classes for teens and children, as well as health and environmental awareness for all family members.

And AYB also offers employment opportunities to youth and women graduating from its training programs.

“The dream of a better reality for Egypt starts with a passion spread throughout the country,” Zaki says.

AYB carries this dream and is inviting others to dream alongside it. A monthly orientation is scheduled to introduce AYB's profile to new joining members.

AYB has almost concluded the establishment of its training and employment center in old Cairo. It intends to expand the project to other governorates, in its bid to close the gap between the upper and lower segments of Egypt's society through development, rather than pity-driven charity.

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