Here at Cairo Contra, we take it seriously to bring in all the sides of the story. Hence, when our Editor in Chief was attending the World Youth Forum, she decided to ask as many questions as possible about the youth’s experience with the forum so you may get the full unbiased picture. Here’s what they had to say.
Attendees of cultural and simultaneous topics
Abdallah Essam [Egyptian]: Founder of the first Egyptian Cerebral Palsy Football team and a player himself
“The game has been around since 1985 world wide, but it’s not in Egypt unfortunately. We’re trying to become officially recognised [as a formal Egyptian team]. I’m hoping our presence here in this event we get noticed by officials for a solution”
What do you think so far of your experience here? Is it what you expected?
“I was expecting to meet a lot of good people. and [as a volunteer in Helm] to participate and support the workshops targeting topics related to those with disabilities.”
He wishes that officials involve those with disabilities in major decisions as they deserve a say in things as much as anyone else.
Islam Hassan [Egyptian]: Senior Legal Officer at GFC [Global Finance Company]
Wearing a Helm Foundation pin he says, “This year we’re trying to offer new services for handicaps by making requirements easier for the disabled. There was a famous incident [in the industry], when the musician Ammar El Sherei [who was visually impaired] tried to open a bank account. One of the requirements was the presence of a “guardian” or “trustee” to sign his documents for him. That was something he wouldn’t accept, and it was emotionally difficult for him to be told so. He refused to have a “guardian” to sign for him, as he was an adult with a successful career and no mental disorder whatsoever. Being a prominent well known musician and composer, an exception was made by the bank. However, we’re looking forward that the new laws that will be released by the central bank will fix this situation for all those with disabilities, so everyone can deal with a bank normally without having a family “guardian” or someone appointed to be their “trustee” by court, because they are fully capable. Having cheques with Braille included and ATMs that are suited for the disabled to use, should be available as this the era of technological revolution, no one should be deprived of a service.”
I understand you attended last year, what is different?
“This year the number of attendees has increased massively, and the number of organizers are the same. This must be exhausting for them. I see them giving 1000% of their effort, but they look tired! I think there must be more organizers next year. I feel a need for more variety of sponsors next year; it also feels like they got the same budget of last year but with the price inflation the quality isn’t as good. It needs more sponsors, this is the image of Egypt being presented to the world… we should be presenting our best with a bigger budget.”
What are/were your expectations coming back after last year?
“I wanted to find 90-95% of last year’s recommendations have been applied and achieved. Yes, a lot has been achieved, but we wanted more. The banking sector, especially in the banking sector after 2016, this year 2018 is the year of the disabled… we should be working on their services. We were expecting before the forum the law regarding the disabled would have been activated, or at least issue an executive regulation regarding this matter. Let’s hope that this happens before the end of the year so the disabled can have more financial freedom.”
You do know that the forum does face some negative criticism online, how would you comment on this critique after attending this forum for 2 consecutive years?
“Everyone has their affiliations, however, let’s agree that the country’s best interest is higher than any political affiliation. Just because i don’t support a political group or direction doesn’t mean my reaction towards an event, that is trying to get young people active and providing a decent environment for youth to voice their opinions and interests, should be built on my political direction rather than the outcome of the actual event.”
*We would like to note that last year’s organizers were less than 1000 and this year there were around 1200 organizers*
Oluwatoyin Williams [ Nigerian]: HR consultant – recently started own firm offering consultancy for small businesses
You came with a focus on workshops and sessions focusing on enabling disabled individuals?
“Yes, managing disabled people is one of my main passions, and I want to see how we can , in Nigeria, begin to mainstream them back into society by bringing them employment opportunities and a chance to make a living for themselves, so when I saw the themes for workshops I was like “fantastic” I need to be here, so I applied and I was accepted.”
Before coming here, what were your expectations?
“Before coming I expected to meet a lot of people who were already doing established work in managing people with disabilities. I expected to find policy makers so that we can exchange ideas on what we can do in Nigeria. Now I understand that it’s really different. I mean what’s applicable in Egypt might not work in Nigeria but there are common grounds because disabled people all over the world they have the same challenges. So I had expectations to meet top quality people and I haven’t been disappointed. Yesterday was fantastic, we had an exercise where we simulated being a disabled person, so first I had a blindfold on and someone led me by the hand. It was very strange because I felt scared, I felt vulnerable, I didn’t know what is going on around me, I needed somebody to tell me if everything was ok and it was beautiful to put yourself in the position of somebody who’s visually impaired to see that how they feel. Then we also had the wheel chair challenge, and I realised that… I mean disabled people, I’m going to give them tops, they make it look easy, IT WAS HARD! It was hard getting around, knowing how to turn and how avoid bumping against objects, so it was fantastic, it was a good immersion yesterday, it was very good.”
What are you expecting for the rest of the week? [this was on the second day of the forum]
“I’ll be attending the one about entrepreneurship because I’m also interested in that. There are quite a lot of labs that I’ve seen on the way to help start-ups, I intend to have a discussion with one or two of them. Overall I’m having a very good time, I’m happy I came. I’m really grateful to Egypt for putting this together, I’m very happy and I hope more and more young people get an opportunity to come.”
For next year, what more do you expect from the forum?
“I think to be quite frank; in fact I’m going to speak to the organizers. I would like to be part of the organizers committee next year. Because some of the issues we had with travel, could have been better managed if they had a country representative. Obviously it’s a volunteer position so if we had volunteers in every country managing the people who’re coming from that country it would have really shortened the stress of coming, because it was quite stressful with the visa arrangements and not getting enough information. I think that would be an improvement. So one representative in each country, because I know the scene in Egypt was quite stressed and that understandable, 5000 people is no joke. So good work to them but I think we can do it better.”
Young people in Africa, what would you to tell them in general?
“We need to grow up very quickly. The reality around us is that Africa needs us to step up. There’s a lot of opportunities and young people in Africa are massively talented, now the question is what are you doing with that talent? If you have a talent to do anything do more research, speak to people, and see how it goes. Because once you start something there’s a chain reaction, another young person is going to pick it up and in the end of the day we can transform it but we just need to step up.”
There are a bit of negative comments about the money spent on an event like this seeing as we are an African country with financial challenges, do you believe the money here was well spent?
“Honestly speaking it’s because we haven’t been spending money on things like this, that we are where we are right now. So it’s beyond worth the money in gold, because there is no other forum where you find young people come together and there are focused discussions on things that can move Africa forward its money worth its weight in gold 50 billion times and over.”
Yasmina Saleh [Egyptian]: tutor at German University Cairo faculty of applied arts
Why are you attending?
“It’s an opportunity to get to know what’s happening around us, and get to know more information, to open my mind to what’s happening at the moment in the world in general.”
What were your expectations?
“I didn’t have specific expectations but so far it’s great. It’s really nice to feel that you can be united with someone, to discuss something in common, it’s really nice.”
What did you discuss today?
“A lot of stuff. For example how to create an identity for Africa, how can we imagine it, what could help this identity…. what can we do so Africa is self sustained to a certain extent”
Do you think it’s applicable or just talk?
“Some things I felt were just talk; others I felt were possible to apply. For example, we have amazing resources, so instead of exporting those resources and importing them back as products we can manufacture those in the continent. I feel this is applicable. However, finding common culture, I feel we don’t have that; every country has a different identity. I felt a large portion of the session was taken up to discuss ‘what’s the identity of Africa’, but I feel it’s not one identity. I felt this is not applicable.”
Being a designer yourself, how did you find this workshop related?
“It doesn’t have to have a direct relation to design. But as a designer, you have to be knowledgeable and aware of all what’s happening around you, you have to have a fair amount of knowledge.”
Currently there are a couple of memes and comments going around about the forum being a playground of sorts for “young kids” to play. What do you think?
“I think this has become normal. There’s this “trend”, whenever there’s something good happening in the country you find trending criticism. Every time something good is happening they keep questioning “what if”, “why”, they’re just trying to spoil anything good happening. I find all these people coming from all over the world, that they come here and see something so well organized like this here in Egypt, and for them to meet people in our age group. The people who’re coming are well educated and they want to make a difference, they’re not just tourists who come and are not in contact with people like us. That they can come and get to know us, to see that we are educated, that we have dreams for a better future. To see that Egypt isn’t camels or terrorists. The fact that we’re in Sharm El Sheikh, that they get to see Sharm El Sheikh is great… I find that all those I talked to have positive feedback.”
Attendees of political sessions
Man Rares (Ray) [Romanian]: studying in the UK
So far how did you find the forum? And what were the topics that you were interested to attend here in the forum?
“I feel the topics are very relevant to the youth wherever they come from. What I find very interesting about the forum is that they’re from so many different places thus there’s so much creative energy and potential in the room. What I would have liked to see more was making use of that creative energy that the youth has instead of just listening. Obviously the youth has to be inspired first then take action, but then there’s what can the youth do, and incorporating them into the discussion during the forum would be a great thing to see.”
What were you expecting before you came here?
“I was expecting something very similar to what’s happening. However, I was expecting a little bit more interaction with the youth itself, obviously some topics are very… shall we say …high level and not everybody is in the same area of expertise… However, I’d like to see more of like sharing and cooperation of attendees.”
What are you hoping to come out of the forum with as a European?
“So for me this was a very good potential experience for networking and for meeting people who are interested in similar things that I am or people who have similar opinions or contradicting opinions as well, so I can see different perspectives and different sides of the same story.”
An Algerian attendee
“World youth forum is a dazzling event of sorts and is a patchwork of colors, ideas, and ideals, and hope, and peace.”
What were you expecting before you came?
“I was expecting to be very busy and I did not get busy. I was expecting to be put to work to prepare things or write things or brainstorm ideas, I did not get that and I did not like it. That’s the only point I did not like about the world youth forum.”
What would you want to see better next year?
“I want to see that attendees whether delegates, panelist or speakers, or participants get busy they need to get busy.”
From Start-up Vein
Rayeh – Egyptian carpooling app [Mohamed Farag, Ramy Hamzawy]
Why are you attending the forum this year?
Ramy Hamzawy : “We’re here to participate in the start-up vein, we came through AUC Venture Labs. We’re trying to educate people with the idea of car-pooling, since we in Egypt really do need this concept. Petrol prices are increasing, traffic is increasing, so we want people to benefit more out of the idea of carpooling.”
How are you finding the World Youth Forum so far as a start-up with a booth?
Ramy Hamzawy : “I find it amazing”
Mohamed Farag : “It’s good, but I would have liked us to have been on the main agenda. If we were on the mobile app of the WYF or the main agenda of the forum that would have been better. It’ll grab more interest of people. Since all the attendees are only attracted by the booth, if they’re coming already with the interest to come have a look at the start-up. We hope that next year they have this in the forum”
What do you think?
Did you attend? What was your experience? Would you attend next year? What do you think of the WYF? Let us know what you think in the comments below.