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Tahrir initiative seeks to launch Egypt development efforts

Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the central gathering point for recent protests that resulted in former President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster, on Thursday, 21 April witnessed  an exhibition about the rebuilding and development of Egypt. With the title “For the Sake of Egypt,” it’s the fruit of the combined efforts of youth from different NGOs who believe the revolution’s achievements must be preserved.

“I’ve found that the energy that fueled the revolution can be better implemented through on-the-ground activities; that’s why we chose Tahrir Square,” said Mohamed Aboud, one of the organizers, to Al-Masry Al-Youm.

The exhibition featured NGOs and civil society organizations. At 10 am, exhibitors, each with a booth, started talking with the public and the media about their work. Children and youth attended.

One of the children was Mohamed Mansour, an 8th grade student who won the Intel Scientific Research Award for inventing new hardware to help preserve computer processors and increase computer speed. Mohamed has two other inventions, a new fridge and an apparatus for purifying gases emitted by cars.

“It was just ideas, but now I have three patented inventions,” Mohamed proudly told Al-Masry Al-Youm.

Institutions can help Mohammed and other children receive the care they deserve to flourish and help the country. Gifted Children Care Center in Cairo, for example, aims to set standards to select gifted children, and help them discover their talents and develop them.

Another interesting invention by 8th grade students — in this case Radwa, Hadeel and Aya — is a keyboard designed for those with special needs. Bigger keys can be operated by legs for people with impaired upper limbs.

The exhibition attracted people from all walks of life. Passersby stopped to inquire about initiatives and projects. 

A new approach to charity and development was introduced by the Egyptian Society for Endogenous Development of Local Communities (ESEDLC).

“There is nothing called a poor community; it’s a matter of how to use all available resources and make use of them,” says Hamdy Moussa, a professor at the faculty of agriculture at Ain Shams University, explained to Al-Masry Al-Youm. He said that ESEDLC chooses the poorest villages that have community leaders to implement their projects.

“We carry out the project once; the same project is then duplicated by others in the village who are convinced of the outcome,” Moussa added.

Science was a major aspect of the exhibition: In addition to young inventors, it hosted Science Age Society (SAS), a non-profit, non-partisan, secular, and apolitical civil society association aimed at upgrading knowledge, culture and modern science.

One of the objectives of SAS is to encourage young scientists and allocate the resources necessary for their research and innovations. It also organizes competitions for young inventors. Essam Sharaf was the head of SAS before being appointed prime minister.   

The biggest booth belonged to Nile University. It presented a diversity of projects and research work under the slogan Youth Create for a Better Future.

After Wael Ghoneim created a website called Egypt 2.0 for people’s suggestions on how to rebuild the country, the university launched a system, called 7ewarat 3al Nil,to analyze and restructure the 50,000 ideas received. The system was welcomed by Egypt’s armed forces.

The university also presented an ambitious project that uses software engineering to create a web-based system to help Cairo University's faculty of medicine manage its 13,000 doctors, nurses, and other employees. “It looked very complicated in the beginning, but we were up to the challenge and started implementation in November 2010,” explained Ahmed Al-Sayyed, an assistant researcher at Nile University. The university conducts the project in tandem with the Ministry of Local Development.

Egypt’s security problem was also addressed. "The Police, the People, and the Nation" aims to raise security awareness in communities. Lectures and activities are organized that help reconcile people and police. Aboud explained that the NGO Community Initiative aims to create a network compiling various NGOs working in Egypt. The plan is being discussed by the cabinet.

“What really hinders development in Egypt is the letter ‘I,’ when each wants his or her benefit while completely neglecting Egypt’s prosperity. So we are here today to work for Egypt,” Aboud said.

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