Philanthropy during the curfew

Philanthropy during the curfew

The initiative aims at utilizing the curfew hours in doing good by getting volunteers to type in books that are later transformed to Braille (Photo from Kheir Fel Hazr Facebook page)

The initiative aims at utilizing the curfew hours in doing good by getting volunteers to type in books that are later transformed to Braille
(Photo from Kheir Fel Hazr Facebook page)

By Yomna El-Saeed

Many Egyptians complain about having to stay at home during curfew and being idle and bored. However, one group of socially active youth called Mashroo3 Kheir decided to make good use of those unexploited hours. The project requires little time and effort on the part of volunteers, but it is very beneficial to others. The Facebook-launched initiative is called Kheir fel Hazr initiative (which translates to doing good during curfew).

“We wanted to use the long hours of curfew in something other than fighting over politics, but to help others,” said Amin Marei, co-founder of Mashroo3 Kheir, and the person who came up with the idea. The idea is simple; instead of using the curfew hours to watch Youtube or check out social media, volunteers are asked to use their typing skills.

“It is basically about sending scanned pages of books to volunteers to re-type them into text documents. Then, a special programme translates them into the Braille language. Some of these books are textbooks, others are ordinary books that the people who are visually impaired want to read but couldn’t. Braille books are not available in Egypt,” Marei said.

Not everyone who is visually impaired can read Braille, but the initiative came up with a solution. “Some books are also recorded as audio,” Marei explained. He also added that Resala NGO helped with that part of the project. “Ever since the curfew started we have gathered more than 300 volunteers, and we have successfully produced seven Braille books and seven audio books,” Marei said. The initiative plans to continue its work even after the curfew is cancelled.

Besides focusing on developing reading and listening materials for the visually impaired, Marei added some new aspects to the project. “Another thing we are still working on is contacting volunteers with different skills or types of knowledge, who are willing to teach them to others. We will hook them up with beneficiaries. Some volunteers applied to teach writing poetry, history, and marketing,” he explained.

Mashroo3 Kheir, the group behind the initiative, is essentially a youth group formed after the revolution that decided to help make Egypt a better place, but not through politics. Their work is based on linking young people who are willing to volunteer in community service activities, but do not know how, with NGOs. They are now in the process of founding an NGO with the same name so they can work officially. Besides using social media to draw attention to their work, they are also spreading their activities through students’ clubs in universities, like the American University in Cairo.

Their upcoming projects include educating illiterate children from impoverished backgrounds in Upper Egypt, and collecting Eid (Islamic feast) clothes for orphans. They are also organising an event at AUC to provide a platform where students can meet NGOs and find the ones for which they would be interested to volunteer.

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