28 February 2010
With an eye to ensuring that disabled people are granted the right to culture, entertainment, and tourism, Caritas Egypt Association has joined hands with the Ana Lindh Euro-Med Foundation in organising a cultural exchange programme for the disabled. The programme, which started last November and runs for one year, is most likely to be further extended.
Alfred George, the project general coordinator, said the programme served several purposes; first was supporting the integration of the disabled in society through cultural and entertainment activities, in addition to training the disabled to be independently successful, and raising the moral and pride of families with disabled members.
Already several groups of disabled persons have made names for themselves as top class performers. Among these are the choirs of Banat al-Nour (Daughters of Light) and Dar al-Hanan (House of Tenderness).
The project launched in Alexandria by the City Centre for Training and Studies in Disability, affiliated to Caritas Egypt, is 51 per cent funded by the Ana Lindh Euro-Med Foundation, and co-funded by the European Union.
Five governorates—Alexandria, Cairo, Minya, Qena, and Tanta—as well as three Arab nations: Jordan, Tunisia and Lebanon, and one Euromed country, France, are backing the project.
Mr George said the project activities included theatrical shows, art workshops and handmade crafts, as well researching the heritage, customs and traditions of each governorate. A team made up of 15 members comprising disabled people, trainees, and volunteers from each country or governorate leads a training programme for members of NGOs working with the disabled. Teams formed of disabled persons compete together in the various activities, with a closing festival to be held in every governorate to celebrate and announce the winning team. The winner will have the opportunity to represent Egypt at the International Camp in Alexandria in July 2010.
Naguib Khuzam, Alexandria City Centre’s general supervisor, said the idea stemmed from a belief in the rights of the disabled to lead a normal life. Dr Khuzam added that a sizeable proportion of world tourists are disabled, and Egypt should be well prepared to welcome them. Placing the disabled on the tourist and cultural agenda, and providing them with adequate services, whether in museums, tourist sites, or theatres, would bring a more caring and more modern face to Egyptian tourism.