Tuesday 12 July 2016

The story of Elhamy Naguib continues on describing the artistic activities of the projects realized in Cairo together with the foundation Koz Kazah, our counterpart in Egypt.
Read the first part >>>

«After starting the project “Children in danger”, our next challenge was to fulfill the same objectives with girls of the same age groups. We did approximately the same activities like the boys with a higher degree of success in the arts program. With the girls I found out I could give them a crash course in color theory and drawing fitting their age group.

At this stage the group of girls would be ready for a big project together. We produced two murals with two groups of girls consecutively. I have been doing community murals for over 20 years, so I have a flexible system with a few variables depending on the number of participants, the age group, the level of skills in the group, the educational/entertainment purpose of the activity, and the time available. For our purposes at Koz Kazah, process is paramount and precedes in importance the final result.

Our third program is called “These great artists and their beautiful arts”. Girls are shown pictures of artworks done by the masters. Some general information is presented to them with lots of stories and trivia. This is then followed by an art activity related and inspired by this specific artist. Some of the artists discussed were Picasso, Klimt, Matisse, Leonardo Da Vinci, Paul Klee.  We always celebrate girls work and in a few cases give them certificates of participation.  Eventually selected pieces of their work will be exhibited in our new headquarters.

As for the mothers, we do not have an art program for them. A few mothers asked if they too would do some art since they noticed their kids’ enjoyment with the activities. I took the opportunity to tell them about the importance of art for their children. I also challenged them to do some art projects, and they enjoyed a lot. I personally believe we should have more art sessions with all adults. It is usually a chance for grown-ups to recapture the joy of creativity.

Egyptian mothers are very resilient. Even though they suffer economically and carry the burdens and injustice of a male dominant culture, they strive to make the best for their children. They listen to our teaching if it is done in friendly equalitarian manner.

I was once addressing the topic of harmony in the family with the mothers, during one of our summer camps. Suddenly there was a turn in the discussion towards the circle of domestic violence. All stories shared were about somebody else being abused. In the discussion they all opposed me explaining that beating a child is a necessity for their kind of children. I tried as much as I could and without being condescending, to explain all other ways to discipline a child without physical or psychological abuse. From their reactions I thought I failed miserably. Later at the end of the camp, one mother promised everybody in the final camp meeting, that she would try to discipline her children without abusing them. Whether she will carry this promise or not, I am not sure, but the simple declaration is a step in the right direction!

Working with the children, and sometimes their mothers is enjoyable and rewarding. Our biggest challenge is the consistency of their attendance. We are constantly thinking of improving our tools and striking a balance between the entertainment quality of our program and our common purpose.»

The photo shows a painting by Elhamy Naguib, based on the art calendar “Salt of the Earth”.

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