“As much as I grow up I am still young… As much as I grow tall I am not on the top.” These lyrics by Egyptian pop singer Amr Diab were the first thing I heard at the party held by the Branches of the Vine Centre for the Mentally Challenged. A few simple words strongly expressed the idea of the occasion to celebrate the end of the school year. The sixteenth annual party was held on 20 June at the theatre of the British School in Maadi. Nathan Qelada, head of the board of directors of the Branches of the Vine Centre welcomed the guests and explained the great effort exerted by the members of the working team.
The centre and school target children between four and 14. Assessment tests are first conducted to determine the level of children’s abilities. The child is then admitted to the centre which works to develop the child’s abilities through methods implemented by specialists in dealing with mentally disabled children.
From darkness to light
Magda Hosni, one of the founders of the centre, explained that the centre mainly focused on rehabilitating mentally disabled children. The end-of-year event, she said, showed parents the skills their children had painstakingly acquired throughout the school year.
The party started with a scout march followed by the national anthem and saluting the flag, all under the name of Karma Sat (Vine Sat). The children then sang a song that expressed how they were transferred from darkness to light through the programmes at the centre.
The magnificent performance of Karma Sat absorbed all the attendants, including Bishop Daniel of Maadi; Aisha Abdel-Rahman, deputy of the social solidarity minister; members of the Rotary Club in Maadi; the Tree Lovers association; and parents of the children.
The children excelled in presenting the various performances at the party. The little children Amr and Haidi had the audience in stitches at their performance as a TV announcer talking to an actress. Other stories were creatively and interestingly presented, and a fashion show included national and local items of clothing including the traditional Egyptian milaya laff that wraps around the body or is worn hanging loose on the arms as a shawl. sabi al-qahwa (the traditional café boy), and the arouset al-mulid (the mulid doll) held by girls on the Prophet Mohamed’s Birthday. They also showed the national costumes of many countries, including the Indian, Chinese, and Japanese.
It was a celebration in which parents, friends, and especially the children, had the time of their life.