Inspiring Change - A Journey from Beneficiary to Leader with Save the Children

Sunday 26 October 2014


 Rabab Hassan - Save the Children


                                                  Photo Credit: Rabab Hassan - Save the Children


Hadary is 25 years old and currently works as a Coordinator for Save the Children’s Child Friendly Space in 10th of Ramadan, Greater Cairo, where he previously worked as an activity facilitator for three months. Hadary has a long history with Save the Children, having benefitted from one of our art projects for Egyptian children when he was a teenager. Here he tells his story of how he finally fulfilled his childhood ambition to work with Save the Children:

I was born in Cairo, in a very poor area of Helwan. My extended family lives in one house together, where I share two rooms with my parents, two brothers and one sister. My eldest brother now runs his own business, which was always his dream, and my other brother works in handcrafts. All three brothers have made our dreams come true! My sister is very young, only ten years old, and is in the sixth grade. I think we are helping her to live a better than life than we faced. We want to help the dream of a better life come true for her. My father worked in many jobs to earn enough money for our family. My mother used to work in a fabric factory, but no longer has a job. We are still living in this same house where I grew up.

 I don’t remember exactly when I first heard about Save the Children, maybe 2006 or 2007, while I was still a child. I was a beneficiary of one of Save the Children’s projects, which was run in cooperation with a Jordanian organisation. The project was for Egyptian children, and it involved bringing about change in children’s lives through art. It targeted children involved in labour, holding workshops for them which focussed on how you can change your life through art.

At that time, I was about 16 or 17. I wasn’t in school as I was working as an electrician and mechanic. The project targeted my local area of Helwan, and I heard about the project from my friends. One day when I was coming home from work, I saw that people were registering for the project and I asked what it involved. That day I took part in their clay modelling workshop. Producing something with my own hands made me happy, and I wanted to keep painting and different kinds of art. I saw that the project was run by Save the Children and I said to myself, one day I will work for this organisation. The programme changed my perspective on life.

Later on I went back to school, as well as working at my job and taking part in Save the Children’s project. In the next few years, I received a lot of training from different organisations including Save the Children and UNICEF. By 2008 I was one of the organisers of an event held for street children. I then became a facilitator for children’s activities, when I was about 18 years old.  This was the turning point for me, when I moved from being a beneficiary and receiving training, to being a trainer and organiser myself.

 After this, I worked with child labourers, who were either still studying or had left school. I then worked for a project under the European Union, helping to change the situation on the ground by building new schools in deprived areas and improving the infrastructure. In one project, the manager brought Sudanese and Eritrean children to join in the training alongside the Egyptian children. This was my first experience working with refugees.  I also worked with Syrian children in 2013, where I carried out training which used art and journalism to help the children to communicate their points of view.

 While I was working in these civil society roles, one of my friends there told me that Save the Children was looking for staff. This was the point when my dream started to come true. All my friends told me that it would be very hard to join an international organisation like Save the Children, and I would need to have connections, but I managed to get the job. Now I’m telling my friends that I will be the Country Director one day!

I first started working with Save the Children as a trainer in their irregular migration project, and I’ve now been with the organisation for around a year. In this first role, I trained children aged 12-18 years about international and national laws related to migration, and also discussed the role of parliament through simulation activities. I introduced them to Egypt’s Child Protection Committees and what is involved in being a member of these committees.

 The most important thing about my job is that working for Save the Children has been my dream for a long time. I also like that being a facilitator here is different than in other organisations. In other places, you are given the plan and the staff simply execute it, but in Save the Children they give us the opportunity to create the plans ourselves. I gained a lot of experience by working with the other staff alongside me. I have received a lot of training which makes me more qualified to do my job. This is why I feel that Save the Children is different to other organisations in a positive way.

 At the Child Friendly Space, we give children the chance to plan their activities and develop the day’s schedule. We now use the children’s ideas to create our plans for the CFS! It allows the children to feel responsibility for what happens in their Child Friendly Space. I also feel proud about one particular boy, who is 16 years old. He used to go horseback riding in Syria and one day I suggested that he should try something new and take up singing. He discovered that he has a very good voice and took part in many events after that. At the last party, he sang in front of a large audience and the boy told me that it was one of his dreams to sing on stage like that. I was very happy to have made that happen for him.

 Save the Children gave me many skills, such as leadership and long-term planning. These skills help not only in my work, but also to bring about sustainability for children and give them the same training and ambitions after they leave the Child Friendly Space. Once they are 18, they will be able to do things by themselves, like I can. I now have the skills to be a leader and run many projects myself. I would like to be a Country Director here in Egypt. I like to think that Save the Children might one day ask me to do this, because of my work with society here!