An Ambassador for Dialogue training the youth of Ezbet Khayrallah in dialogue.
Since 2013, the Ambassadors for Dialogue (AFD) have been collaborating with Ruwwad Al Tanmeya, an International NGO, facilitating trainings on dialogue to youth and kids in Ezbet Khariallah, an informal area of Cairo. Dialogue is not a one-way street, and both trainer and trainee will eventually have to reach new understandings of the self and the other.
By Martha Flyvholm Tode and Ahmed Bazzoum
Ezbet Khairallah, home to more than 500,000 habitants, is one of the biggest informal settlements in Cairo. Extending over an area of two square kilometers, it is one of the largest and most densely populated informal communities in Egypt. As typical for all of the informal settlements in Egypt, the inhabitants of Ezbet Khayrallah— besides living in the constant fear of having their homes demolished — are deprived from basic utilities, like water, electricity and a sewage system. These are all conditions influencing on the kids and youth growing up in the area.
“We must try to understand them, their actions and behaviors” says Amany Khaled, a 24 year old volunteer at Ruwwad al Tanmeya. “It’s important to understand the reasons behind their illiteracy and ignorance, so we can work together and search for opportunities and solutions together, without any discrimination.”
Ruwwad al Tanmeya is an international NGO operating in Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, and Ezbet Khayrallah in Cairo, Egypt. Their youth program focuses on recruiting young people from the area, and provide them with training that would qualify them for the employment market, as well as develop their interpersonal skills. This is where the Ambassadors for Dialogue step in facilitating seminars and workshops on dialogue. Hence, the dialogical training has a double purpose, as it on one hand provides the youth with dialogue skills and tools that would benefit them in communicating with each other and with the rest of the society. On the other, it contributes to enhance the volunteers’ self-understanding and position-taking towards the youth.
“Training dialogue is to train one self in accepting the other, whatever the cultural differences are. It changed my way of thinking, and made me much more self-aware,” says Amany.
Dialogues goes two ways, and to be able to engage in dialogues with others, one must be able to discuss with one self. A part of the dialogical training is therefor to ask the difficult questions, like “who am I?”, “what is my position in this discussion?”, “why do I take this position?”, and “what would happen if I took another position?”. Only by understanding ones own position in a conversation, one is able to truly listen to the other.
“In this environment there is a high rate of illiteracy, and children have an aggressive attitude,” Amany explains. “My favorite experience as a volunteer was, when I after many training sessions realized that the young people I was working with, actually really wanted to participate and become good members of society. They just needed someone to guide them, understand them, and touch their talents.”
Over the years, AFD have recruited tree of Ruwaad al Tanmya volunteers as dialogue ambassadors allowing them to integrate dialogue within their programs.
Read more about the Ambassadors for Dialogue’s activities here.