WORLD AIDS DAY – Way to go Egypt!

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On the evening of Thursday the 17th of January 2008, an event was held at El Sawy Culture wheel to observe "World AIDS Day". The event was sponsored, and organized by UNAIDS in Egypt, aiming to create awareness. However, that event was not my participating role concerning this occasion. My participation began last November after I received a call from Mohamed El Koossy, of Active PR and marketing agency.


I met Koossy on a previous job in 2004, organizing a campaign to fight Polio in Egypt under the auspices of HE Mrs. Suzan Mubarak. Koossy called on me this time to put together a production to make a short film of the events on WAD. So here I was heading off to Menia stadium for the big event. I was looking forward to the production, yet came back with a more impressive memory.


The events of the day began at 0800 hours with a peaceful march or jog for the cause. Hundreds of participants from all over Menia, and surrounding governorates were invited to participate in WAD, and many more ended up joining. All dressed in the white T-shirts and caps, branded with logos and mottos of the campaign. The walk began on the corniche of Menia, along the banks of the Nile. My crew enjoyed running along, and getting some very interesting shots of the run.


At the stadium a stage was set up at the end of the field. The grounds were divided up for discussion groups. Participants were welcomed by youth organization members who escorted them to their groups. These groups were made up of, men, women and children of all ages from all over Upper Egypt. All were coming to learn, and educate themselves and get more awareness about the world's worst virus.


I was greatly impressed by the insightfulness of the listeners through out the day. Moving among discussion groups, taking pictures, I realized how attentive and intellectual they are, and how quickly they digested the information given to them. Being the "city boy" I am; I came with the expectation to probably meet very simple, and sadly, many uneducated people. Yet, as simple as they carried themselves, and as genuine as they came, they all learned fast, and participated with very intelligent questions.


To see men, women, and children participating in sex related discussions, speak freely and with no embarrassment or awkwardness was the core of my observation. It raised a very important question to my mind. Why is sex education not part of our school curriculums yet? As far as I can see, most people in Egypt have no problem discussing the "taboo" topic anymore, and in reality are in great need for educational awareness. What I saw that day was a very sophisticated image of the real people of Egypt, versus the misconception and shattered image we might have in our minds. These people have a great urge for knowledge, are eligible to receive it.                              



By now evening has fallen over Menia, lunch was served, discussions were still taking place all over the field, and most of all, every one was getting exhausted; yet still having loads of fun.


Most girls and guy fans too, were enjoying Khaled Abo El Naga and Amr Waked spending the day with us. It was great to have them around, they added glamour to the day, and participated with an improvised sketch they did on stage, which certainly got the attention of all of us. As a Good Will Ambassador, and a celebrity movie star who has a cause, their presence was a great plus to the event.


To wrap up, a small competition was held on stage. Participants answered questions based on the day's teachings, to ensure everyone got full awareness. Last on the program list was the harmonic, cultural music of "Habayebna". A local band that performs mostly covers for nationalistic songs, and Egyptian folklore music about our beloved Egypt. God bless Egypt, and God bless all Egyptians. I am proud to be one.




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