Ahmed Gad: Pairing personal ambition with civil service
Editor’s note: Ahmed Gad submitted his following personal story to Global Young Voices. You too can submit yours to us here.
I am a person who seeks to widen his knowledge and bear the responsibility of taking new challenges in order to improve and better myself as a successful human being capable of leading a decent life for his community and the entire world.
After achieving strong grades at High School, I was someone with an undefined identity raised in upper Egypt; I decided to join the faculty of engineering in a far-away city. It was the only way to go outside my comfort zone to discover what I really wanted to do in my life.
With five years of non-academic work in national and international associations (parallel to my bachelor degree study) doors opened for me to have experiences in defining strategies and sustaining social, economic, and environmental impacts. This involved working on projects that cover many issues including refugees, renewable energy, recycling, and ending violence against women. Outside of these projects I organized blood donations, campaigns and other events. I also found myself freelancing in photography, documenting, and evaluation techniques.
The highlight of my life, which fueled my desire to engage with communities, is when I received the opportunity to study Civic Engagement at Bard College, NY, USA as a scholarship. By doing this I strengthened both my knowledge and experience about civil society; taking case studies in human rights, citizenship, community building, economic development, grassroots activism, political leadership, volunteerism, entrepreneurship, and media. I journeyed to many places, including the US Capitol, United Nations, Human Rights Organizations, meeting undersecretary, congressmen, local politicians, entrepreneurs, mayor, representatives of nonprofit organizations, and many other people. In addition, I also produced case-studies, interviews, field trips, radio shows, presentations, debates, volunteering work, and many fun activities with host families and in college dorms with people from many different backgrounds.
All of this enabled me to accept people regardless of any difference in culture, religion, age, color, ideology and sexuality; now I'm sure that accepting these differences is the key to building a mature society.
I have an interest in photography, videography, documenting, and video editing. After I returned from my scholarship at the USA, I wished to connect this interest with my career in the civil society.
Then, I found the ideal approach. I got awarded a scholarship from the US Embassy in Cairo, called “Alumni TV”; an intensive program in content creation, video creation, and digital marketing presented to 20 Egyptian youths who have already proved their direct social impact on their societies. The main aim of this program was to develop our experience in launching social awareness campaigns. As a result, I produced a social awareness campaign on Self-Education sponsored by the Embassy.
After graduation from the program, I used this opportunity to volunteer with St Andrew’s Refugee Service (“StARS”); as a filmmaker, they were searching for someone who could make a short documentary film to represent one of their projects in the "Ockenden International Prizes" competition that awards on-going refugee projects worldwide.
StARS’ “Unaccompanied Youth Bridging Program” (“UYBP”) embodies an approach to support that values refugee self-reliance, potential, abilities, and expertise. They provide daily activities for unaccompanied children and youth such as education services and psychosocial activities that are designed to reinforce positive relationships, increase confidence and self-reliance, reduce isolation while also building bridges to meaningful activities.
As some working days were done alongside the final exams on my bachelor's degree with the project location being 3 hours away from my residence, I took some time to think until I decided that it was a risk that deserves to be taken. We managed to submit a professional film then the competition took place at Oxford University in the UK where our film won 1st prize. Now, $100,000 is being funded to enlarge the project.
Last summer, I have been presented a chance to visit the USA again to participate as a delegate at “The 20th Session of the Youth Assembly at the United Nations Headquarters” in NYC, USA, it presented me both an enormous opportunity and a challenge to stimulate and ensure youth engagement and participation in achieving an inclusive and sustainable future through partnerships, networking, and collaborations where no one is left behind and each one is included in the society.
Recently after graduation from the school of engineering with a practical experience in development, I got chosen to fill the full-time position of “Activities Facilitator” at “Terre des hommes Foundation in Egypt”. (Tdh) is the leading Swiss organization for child relief. Founded in 1960, Tdh helps to build better future for disadvantaged children and their communities, with an innovative approach and practical, sustainable solutions.
TDH is implementing “enhancement protection and providing psycho-social support for children and their families” in partnership with UNICEF. Through the project, I currently facilitate education sessions and non-specialized psycho-social activities for children and refugees through community centers and schools.
My main scope is to facilitate to children life skills through “Sustainable Development Goals” (SDGs) knowledge and to inspire them to launch initiatives related to the subject matter. As an example, I am working now with a group of Syrian and Sudanese children on making a song on saving clean water resources. The idea of the song is totally launched by them after they have been aware of the water crisis. Another example was teaching Syrian children the basics of photography followed by an exhibition that takes place next month to publish their products of photos.
I believe that this type of initiatives where children have the access to knowledge and their participation have a media coverage is an excellent way to feel that their voices can be heard, their work can be appreciated, and their persona can be included in the society, especially those children from marginalized and refugee background.
Regarding that each human being is an idea, a case, a hope, and a dream that came together to shape a personality. I focus on SDG (No. 10) to reduce inequality. I have a dream that I could guarantee a world for my future child and all children where they can live peacefully, receive a quality education, apply democracy, respect human rights, do decent work, maintain the environment, and develop the technology.
To conclude, I believe I am a committed, multi-talented civil leader who feels people's suffering; someone who has proven his willingness to improve people's’ quality of life and also proved his success through many small achievements mainly based on connecting the dots of his interests and talents. I have done that before, I am doing this now, and I will be doing that through my future career in development.
Cover cartoon credit: Sergio Algeri/GYV