Thursday 23 October saw the UN Cairo office mark the organisation’s founding anniversary on 24 October 1945. In a departure from the generally formal celebrations, the UN marked this year’s anniversary with an outdoor fair held in Cairo’s beautiful Fish Garden on the leafy Zamalek Nile bank. Dozens of beneficiaries of UN projects came together to share their success stories.
“Today, we’re not promoting the UN only, we’re promoting what the UN stands for and its principals on freedom, human rights, and women’s empowerment,” Khawla Mattar, director of UN information center, said.
“We thought this year of bringing our partners, constituencies and beneficiaries under one roof and letting them talk about our efforts, instead of just listing our achievements. Because many times we were asked how we do actually support the underprivileged in Egypt, and why don’t people see tangible things.”
Long lines of tables were stretched all over the garden, piled with various products from unique handicrafts including paintings, vases, mother of pearl jewellery boxes and lanterns to fresh vegetables and fruits; however behind each table lay an inspiring story of persistence and hard work.
At the corner of the botanical garden, under one of Zamalek’s huge trees with overhanging branches, an ice cream cart motorbike stood hanging a banner reading “Give me a second chance to prove that I have changed.”
Mahfouz Mahmoud’s story is a great example of how juvenile offenders could successfully rehabilitated if a hand of support is extended to them.
Mahmoud sentenced to 10 years in prison for drugs case when he was 17-years-old. However, with the help of the UN office on drugs and crime (UNODC), he has been able to have his own little ice-cream business after a few months of his release.
UNODC has been implemented in Cairo since 1997, mostly focusing on adopting conventions with government institutions against crime, human trafficking, smuggling minors, corruption, and drugs.
“In response to the specific needs of women who have been victims of sexual assault, we (UNODC) and the Egyptian Ministry of Justice agreed on a plan of action as fundamental groundwork in the development of future legislation to address violent crime against women and help in strengthening the judicial capacity to administrate theses kinds of persecutions and cases,” Myrna Bouhabib, project coordinator in the UNODC for the MENA, explained to Egypt Independent.
The event successfully wrapped up with a live performance by Wust al-Balad band and the talented hip-hop singer Ahmed Zap Tharwat.
28 October 2014