Nisreen and Caroline in Jordan, Reflection meeting of Tandem 360°
Nisreen and Caroline in Jordan, Reflection meeting of Tandem 360°

Environment and people in the Nile valley

Caroline Badr from Saray El-Fan in El Minya, Egypt, shares her thoughts on her Tandem journey. Caroline was working in Tandem with Nisreen Elsaim from the Sudan Youth Organization on Climate Change in Khartoum, Sudan. They worked on the project "The Environment and the People of Nile Valley".

How did it go?

The first stage of the program

Before the real collaboration between Saray El-Fan and Sudan Youth Organisation on Climate Change started, the preparatory meetings were held with the founders, partners, and our team at Saray El-Fan, tasks were divided, roles were distributed, and special programs were developed. This was done in the course of 4 online meetings between two organisations in mid-February to the end of March 2021.

The first stage was to do communication with leaders of the local areas. It was agreed to film the local youth initiative and old people telling stories about the environment change through time.
We decided to do it on a journey and capture special moments between the past and the present, to depict the damage that has already occurred to the environment over the years, and the current attempts to avoid it or try to manage it.

We agreed to conduct research in 7 governorates in Egypt. Contacts were made with partner institutions in the governorates of Cairo, Alexandria, Minya, Aswan, Siwa, Port Said, and Sharm El-Sheikh.

Eventually, Sharm El-Sheikh and Port Said governates were excluded due to the difficulty of obtaining security permits for filming there.

The second stage of the program

Field researches:

In mid-April, preparations for the field research period began as well as the communication with partner institutions to organize the team’s trips.
An agreement was reached at the end of April with the Youth Loves Egypt Foundation to film a number of environmental initiatives carried out by the Foundation in Cairo and Alexandria, as well as with the Jesuit Association in Alexandria and the Green Day Foundation in Cairo. The field survey was supposed to begin in June, with the presence of 4 members of our team.

As for Minya Governorate, coordination was carried out with the Evangelical Commission as a body that specialized in civil work in Minya, and it was agreed to start a field survey of filming areas in mid-July with the presence of 3 members of the team.

As for Siwa governorate, our team agreed with the Siwa Craft Industries Center to arrange meetings with a number of pioneers in recycling, and also arrange meetings with senior clans in the villages to hear stories about what the New Valley was like in the past decades.

As for Aswan, we coordinated with the Future Society for Consumer Protection and the YMCA Club to arrange sessions with the elders of West Sohail and organize various meetings to get a clearer picture of the shape of the Nubian society in Aswan.

The third stage of the program

Time for filming! The beginning of filming was in Cairo, and the team started filming the initiative to clean the Nile water from the dangers of plastic with the Youth Loves Egypt Foundation.
The second day, our team was hosted by the Green Day Foundation and spent the day at Ezbet El Zabbaleen, the largest open recycling factory in Africa, filming plastic recycling factories and paper recycling factories.

We arrived in Alexandria and were hosted by the Jesuit and Freire Association, and there we got acquainted with a number of factories that recycle metals to become accessories and recycle the remnants of fabric to become carpets, bags, blankets and other useful things. Our next stop was the charming beaches of Alexandria itself, where we filmed an initiative to ride bicycles in the streets of Alexandria to reduce the global warming. This initiative was organized by the Youth Loves Egypt team.

Our third stop was in Minya Governorate, and with our close knowledge of the governorate, it was difficult to determine what initiatives would be filmed. We agreed with the Evangelical Society to photograph reforestation initiatives after the desertification of large parts of the governorate in the past decades. We also witnessed a number of old stories, which narrate the change that the governorate has undergone from desertification to the expansion of the urban cordon, and the attempts they are currently witnessing to stop this urban expansion at the expense of agricultural lands. At the end of the filming days, we had a chance to capture an initiative between the Saray El-Fan Center and the Evangelical Commission to beautify and clean the agricultural road, starting from Minya to the village of Atlidem. Saray El-Fan Center participated in a group of plastic artists to decorate the road with drawings.

Then we moved by train to the most beautiful part of Egypt, the charming Aswan, to start photographing the beautiful nature there. Nature in Aswan attracts thousands of tourists every month, but for several decades this expansion was a big problem for the local people, so they decided to use environmentally friendly materials in this expansion and also in a charming aesthetic way. We arranged with the YMCY Club to film the West Sohail area and film the stories about the stages of its construction. With the Consumer Protection Association in Aswan, we filmed with the uncle Saeed, one of the pioneers in the manufacture of shell wood and shell crafts in Aswan. We filmed inside his workshop a group of amazing-made wooden handicrafts.

Our trip ended in Siwa to witness the beauty of a very special kind, a beautiful nature that we have not seen before, and this nature was threatened by the accumulation of car tires and palm residues, and there we found a number of recycling pioneers. In agreement with the Siwa Craft Industries Center, meetings were arranged with a number of pioneers in recycling. Among them there was an uncle Mahmoud, one of the pioneers in recycling tires and turning them into useful and daily used rubber products. We also met with senior clans in the country to hear stories about what the New Valley was like in the past decades in the fun nights out with the special Bedouin tea.

Post production

After filming for a while, work on the project was stopped and the editing was not done on time. The original plan was to produce 5 episodes with a duration of 3 to 4 minutes, each episode depicting a governorate from Egypt and another from Sudan with the same environmental problem and ways that each community addresses it.
Filming was supposed to start in October and last for 15 days in the governorates of Sudan, however, with the outbreak of the revolution in Sudan and the interruption of communications there, it became impossible to travel to film there. Not even a local filming team could do anything, since the country started falling apart.

In the following months, we more than once rescheduled filming in Sudan, but it did not work, as the political turmoil there was at its worst.
And with the end of the project, we had to work on changing our view of the content we would produce. We re-written the storyline until it was agreed to present most of what we filmed in Egypt in a short documentary film showing our journey in all the amazing places that we filmed.

The impact of the project on the organization

– Building a network of strong relationships with new institutions and centers.

– Spreading the name of the center in new areas, young people and target groups that we did not reach before.

– Enhancing transparency and youth leadership within the organization.

– Developing the volunteer sector in the center and enriching its expertise through their participation in a number of specialized environmental workshops.

– Working online and mastering online working skills: Zoom, Miro.

– Working on the scientific material was very useful and our team was able to develop the skills of the work team and built its capabilities in environmental awareness.

– Expanding the work team’s horizon and interests in working on environmental issues.