Freelance Photographer – Forsa Program
Badr had always dreamt about becoming an actor but was never allowed the opportunity to try his luck. His application to join the Institute of Theatrical Arts was denied several times, which left him frustrated. He had little hope that joining Wataneya Society’s Forsa Program would lead to anything substantial, but was encouraged to apply nonetheless. It was there that he joined a photography workshop and discovered his passion for the craft, as well as a new plan for the future.
Being the eager learner that he is, he completed the workshop and moved on to become the apprentice of an established photographer. During that time, he not only learned the skills he needed to later strike out on his own, but also saved up enough money to buy the equipment he needed to begin a freelance career. Badr was able to apply what he learned over the years and grow into an established professional in his field. His progress did not go by unnoticed and Badr received a scholarship from Wataneya to attend a cinematography workshop, which opened up new career avenues for him. In continued support of his career, Wataneya also hired Badr to shoot six short films about orphanages in Egypt for one of its most important fundraising events.
Communication Specialist – Forsa Program/strong>
We first met Reda when he joined the Forsa Program as a student. He had a very clear direction in mind, studying for a vocational high school diploma for five years before joining the Workers University, and later equating his certificate at Cairo University to graduate as a Quality Engineer. He attended a number of intensive courses and workshops over the years that helped him expand his skills across a variety of fields. Reda also took on a number of different jobs — working at a bakery shop, as a security guard, as a customer service operator, an inventory allocation coordinator for a major retailer, and a furniture sales executive — growing with each new appointment.
Throughout this time, Reda also engaged in a lot of volunteer work and community development activities, and gained recognition from the UN’s Egypt Mission in 2015 for being one of three leading examples in the field. Within Wataneya, he started out as a public relations volunteer, but soon began taking on more responsibilities and was hired to manage the organization’s online presence, taking charge of its website, as well as social media pages and campaigns. He is also often the creative and executive mind behind Wataneya’s promotional material, having taught himself video editing and graphic design. At the moment, he also owns a small restaurant.
Nahla El Nemr
Head of Institutional Assessment at Wataneya Society
Nahla El Nemr was told that high school would be too hard for her despite having always been a model student. Administrators at the foster home where she grew up denied her request to complete her high school education, telling her that she would be joining the national Nursing Institute “just like everyone else.” This led Nahla to take matters into her own hands, joining a high school behind without the administration’s knowledge. Despite the lack of support and resistance she faced, Nahla completed her degree and enrolled at Cairo University’s Higher Institute of Social Work. Motivating her along the way was her goal to become self-reliant and make her own way in life. When she achieved her goal, Nahla wanted to leave the orphanage life behind and forget all about her challenging upbringing.
That was until she reluctantly accepted an invitation to an event hosted by Wataneya on the quality of care at Egyptian orphanages. Although she shied away from it at first, Nahla had plenty to say on the subject, given her own experience. She became a regular at Wataneya, appearing at frequent gatherings and contributing a great deal to discussions about standards for alternative childcare. Nahla eventually decided to dedicate herself completely to the cause, joining Wataneya’s team out of a desire to prevent others from facing the same conditions she once did. She earned further qualifications in childcare and quality assurance from the Amaan Training Center and rose through the ranks to currently lead Wataneya’s institutional assessment team. Nahla was also invited to speak at Tedx Cairo Women and Wiki Stage about the various challenges facing Egyptian children and youth in the foster system and continues to work tirelessly towards improving their conditions.
Director of Resala Association’s Atfal Ad Elhaiah initiative
Mostafa Hanafy learned about Wataneya while searching for specialized training courses in alternative childcare, which was always his career path of choice. The workshops he completed encouraged him to pursue more advanced certification in child support and rehabilitation, becoming among the first to graduate from a new program launched by the Amaan Training Center. Mostafa’s training allowed him to progress further in his career until he came to lead the Resala Association’s Atfal Ad Elhaiah initiative, which works with street children.
He was determined to use his experience and training to make impactful change by building a team that is like-minded in its understanding of the sensitive nature of the job and the standards of care that should be offered. He encouraged employees in his charge to seek out the same training he felt aided his own professional development and began to partake in training workshops for fresh graduates and new entrants to the field of alternative childcare. Mostafa also applied for and won the Sanad technical grant from Wataneya, which was allocated to upgrades that allowed Atfal Ad Elhaiah to improve its services and win the Beit El Helm Award in 2016.
Orphanage Manager at Resala – Heliopolis
Nahed Hegazy studied at the Faculty of Social Work and was resolved from the start to have a career in the field. She started out as a volunteer at an orphanage, where she spent time guiding and counseling young children. Her efforts did not go unrecognized and she was offered a full time job at the orphanage, where she spent 10 years of her career. She rose through the ranks and came to manage an institution that was home to 45 children of varying ages, as well as a team of 20 employees, including caregivers, specialists, and administrators. Nahed was known for her ability to recognize and retain talent, which in turn allowed her to create a healthy environment for children under her care, where they could form stable, long-term relationships with their caregivers and counselors as they grew.
Nahed was introduced to Wataneya when it was still a nascent idea and had always supported its ultimate goal of improving the institution of alternative childcare in Egypt, as it aligned perfectly with her own. A believer in constant improvement, she was among the first to attend Wataneya’s training sessions and continues to encourage and support her peers in doing the same. As part of her efforts to refine the standards of care at her institution, Nahed sought out the Sanad technical grant offered by Wataneya. The funds were used to improve the quality of services and amenities at the institution, bringing them closer to the standards upheld by Wataneya.
Founder & Director of the Bashaer El Fagr orphanage
Maha Allam had always wanted to support children outside of parental care with more than just charitable donations. Unable to take children into her own home, she decided to start her own foster care project with a group of friends who shared her goals and interests. They agreed to start small and keep things simple, caring for no more than six or seven children at a time, only to find out that the mission was much harder than it seems. Maha found herself facing a shortage of experienced and well-trained personnel to hire and so decided to manage things herself, believing that no one else would be as invested or dedicated to the task.
A newspaper article about Wataneya was the answer to her prayers. After learning more about the organization and the training it offers professionals in the alternative childcare field, Maha did not only require her staff members to attend classes, but also started on her own journey of professional development. This proved to be a turning point for Maha, who completed several of Wataneya’s courses before moving on to pursue international certification from Pearson to become a specialist in children’s health and academic progress, as well as behavioral modification. Today, she uses her knowledge to design programs that teach children sustainable skills, such as research and critical thinking. Maha also hosts regular talks and workshops to share her expertise with peers in the community and her efforts saw Bashaer El Fagr win the Beit Helm Award for being a model for quality care.
Founder & Director of the Beit Amena Girls’ Home
Farida Mattar built her foster home for girls up to the highest specs and quality standards. She hired specialists to design and construct the facility and was keen to prepare caregivers for the responsibility ahead by training them before ever opening her doors. Being the perfectionist that she is, she believed in the importance of training and saw it as avenue for remaining on top of developments in the field. She came across Wataneya and found that it offered training programs tailored to suit the highly specialized nature of working in institutional homes. She required every staff member in her employment to undergo training — whether caregivers or custodians, security guards or administrators — and was right there along with them, learning about skills and techniques used to address the different types of challenges they faced on the job.
With a reliable system in place and a team of dependable, well-trained professionals taking care of day-to-day affairs, Farida was able to create a wholesome environment for children to grow. She was also able to focus her knowledge on more specific aspects of children’s development, particularly issues of identity, which she found were common among children growing up outside of parental care. The issue became a primary focus for Farida, who began designing activities to specifically to that end. She remains committed to learning new ways to expand the scope of care provided at Beit Amena, which received Wataneya’s Beit El Helm award for its exemplary environment.
Egypt’s First Registered Caregiver – Hamza Program
Shaimaa was introduced to Wataneya when she joined the Hamza program during her final year at the Faculty of Social Work. She first learned about the concept of alternative childcare during the program, which is meant to prepare fresh graduates for work orphanages and institutional homes, and developed a deep respect and appreciation for the profession. She found work at a foster home after her graduation, but faced her first hurdle when trying to have her job listed on her national ID card, after authorities told her that ‘caregiver’ was not a registered profession in Egypt.
Her repeated lobbying attempts were met with refusal. Backed by Wataneya and supported by her employers, however, Shaimaa soldiered on long enough to achieve her goal. She successfully convinced authorities to officially recognize her line of work, making a case for the importance of the profession to the community at large. After becoming Egypt’s first registered caregiver and opening the door for her peers to follow, Shaimaa received a grant from Wataneya to pursue certification in alternative childcare from Pearson.
Journalism Student at Misr University for Science & Technology
Ibrahim displayed a knack for art and music from a very young age and was encouraged by his caregivers to pursue opportunities in both directions. He spent three years completing non-degree studies at the Faculty of Fine Arts and began selling his artwork at student galleries and amateur art shows. He also joined conductor Selim Sahab’s Children’s Choir at the Cairo Opera House, where he participated in numerous events and high-profile shows, and even earned a solo slot.
His artistic achievements earned Ibrahim a scholarship from Wataneya to study journalism at Misr University for Science & Technology, where he is currently a senior. Through his early love for music, Ibrahim also developed an ear for sound design. He honed his skills in audio design taking on small roles in large scale productions where he learned from experienced professionals, as well as helping fellow students with their projects. Today, Ibrahim is one of the youngest sound engineers in the field and has worked on a number of popular film and television works.
Taghrid Ahmed Abdallah
Freelance artist and graduate of the Technical Institute of Marine Facilities
Growing up in a foster home never deterred Taghrid from committing to her education and artistic abilities. She had always received support from caregivers at her foster home and was encouraged in her decision to study at the Technical Institute of Marine Facilities. Her artwork was also often displayed on the walls at the institution, which motivated Taghrid to develop her skills as a painter. Her artwork was impressive enough for the minister of social solidarity to take note while touring the institution one day, offering to buy one of Taghreed’s paintings and later awarding her a scholarship to study at the Faculty of Fine Arts. She participated in her first gallery after completing the program and managed to sell several of her paintings.
Despite that, Taghrid was never able to fully acclimate to life outside of the institution. In interactions with the outside world, she found herself exposed to judgment and prejudice about her upbringing. She grew anxious, and even ashamed, of sharing stories about her life and achievements. It was at Wataneya’s youth forum that Taghrid found the inspiration she needed to overcome her fears, drawing strength from the individuals she met who shared similar circumstances, yet spoke openly and sincerely about them, unhindered by society’s preconceptions. With time and support, Taghrid to face the world, proud of her accomplishments and how far she has come.
Graduate of Theatrical Arts and Media Studies – Forsa Program
Sabah joined Wataneya’s Forsa Program with no real expectations in mind, having always been disappointed by the outcome of activities and events she was forced to join as a child growing up in the foster system. She had always found difficulty interacting with the wider community, preferring to keep to herself than listen to prejudiced questions and comments about her life as an orphan. It was at a writing workshop she joined through Forsa that her creativity and literary skills first became apparent. She was a senior in high school at the time who only wrote as hobby.
At the workshop, Sabah found the motivation she needed to nurture her skills and face the setbacks thrown her way. She enrolled in a private university to study media and theatrical arts and later graduated at the top of her class, unimpeded by her fears and ready to take on life’s new challenges.