After the tragic killing of a volunteer South Sudanese teacher in the yard of a school for Sudanese and South Sudanese children, in what appears to be a racially motivated crime, the community is struggling to cope with the loss. One local organization is hoping to help the healing process.
Raphaelle Ayach, the founder of Safarni – Intercultural Children’s Workshop, visited the affected school, the Children Education Center located in Cairo’s Ains Shams district, and saw an opportunity to help the children through educational activities that promote understanding.
Safarni workshops take children on an imaginary journey to a new country. It's a simulated travel experience where children are introduced to the local language, food, games, dances and songs of a distant place. They have the opportunity to meet people from this country, and interact with them through playing, dancing and sharing. These journeys hope to open new doors in children’s minds, and encourage respect for all human beings and cultures.
Safarni activities are mostly held in underprivileged areas, where most children will never be able to travel outside their country. Despite this, the activities target expanding their horizons through dialogue and encourages a culture of accepting others. The workshop is usually arranged in collaboration between Safarni and NGOs working in the area.
"Safarni provides platforms for children to discover diversity. Our target is children who don't have access to travel or platforms for interacting with different cultures, so we provide these platforms in order to create a generation that is accepting, that enjoys diversity and that is open minded," explained Ayach.
When Safarni heard about what happened at the school, they got in touch with the school principal, Pastor Marco Deng, and began thinking of ways that they could help.
Ayach continued: "Since the attack, over 80% of the teachers have not returned, as well as about 50 students."
The situation is difficult. With overcrowded classes and a severe shortage of teachers and activities, the school is struggling to cope with reality and meet expectations. One of the ways Safarni thought they could help was to hold a Safarni day to fund activities for the children in the local community and at the school. While their activities for underprivileged children are usually for free, a number of financially stable parents have expressed interest in having their children join the activities and are willing to make a donation to support the cause. Thus, the idea to hold a fundraising event for Safarni day came into fruition. All proceeds from this event will go toward supporting Safarni activities at the Children Education Center for Sudanese and South Sudanese Refugees in Ain Shams during the summer of 2017.
Safarni day will be held at Darb 1718 on April 22, and parents are encouraged to enroll their children in the event in order to help them discover new cultures and broaden their horizons. At the same time, they will be contributing to helping underprivileged children obtain the same experience. Children between the ages of 7 and 12 are welcome, and the ticket price is EGP 250.
"This is going to a very fun activity, because we are going to be discovering Uganda, and we purposely chose this country and this culture because we believe it's one that not that many [people] in Egypt have traveled to,” explained Ayach. “It's a beautiful culture and we'd love to share it. In a very fun and interactive way, [children will] learn Ugandan dances, eat Ugandan food, play Ugandan games and more. It’s going to be an intercultural and fun extravaganza that supports the community."