The 19 Million Project has a satellite team operating in Egypt through Welad ElBalad Media. In the piece below, Fatemah Farag, founder and CEO, describes their work.
Egypt is often seen by the West as a country that “exports” illegal economic migrants to Europe.
But Egypt is also the destination for tens of thousands of refugees from Iraq, Syria and many countries in Africa. How these communities assimilate within urban centers and within the collective narrative of Egyptians is a story that has yet to be explored and shared. Stories of struggle and success, hope and despair all need to be told by us and by them.
Welad ElBalad Media is Egypt’s only independent media provider developing community based multi-platform media outlets outside of Cairo. This by definition means that we do not see the news the way centralized, mainstream media sees it. We see it from the bottom up, from the perspective of communities who have no space or voice within the mainstream. The 19 Million Project is an opportunity for us to extend our highly engaged media to communities within communities – to the tens of thousands of refugees who reside across the country.
It was not possible for us to get our team to Rome – it is difficult to get young people visas to Western countries even when they are young professionals going for work. This is a testament to how freedom of movement is simple in the West, but often made close to impossible for the citizens of many other parts of the world. The only way they could have made it would have been to put them in a rubber boat and send them across the water! But we are a part of this nonetheless which is why we are dedicating these ten days to working on the theme and developing a project – hopefully work that will extend into the months that come.
Welad ElBalad Media Team (Awad Baseet, Mohamed Hiza, Bassam, Bassam Abdel Hamid, Michael Shenouda, Kerim Mounir, Fatemah Farag)
Below is a post by Bassam Abdel Hamid, a journalist working with Welad ElBalad Media on covering the refugee crisis in Egypt.
I have been covering the plight and stories of Syrian refugees for years now. While they spread across Egypt even reaching the heart of Upper Egypt there is always that hope that they will be able to go home. Sometime.
Their move to Egypt has not been easy. There is always an undercurrent of fear – that they might be arrested or told to move on; an awareness that their life here is not permanent. There are also the difficult economic circumstances they face. Many are forced to beg or peddle homemade food on the streets in an attempt to make ends meet. Some have gone as far as to marry off their young girls to Egyptians here in Upper Egypt to try and secure a better life for their children and themselves. My participation here as part of the Welad ElBalad team across Egypt is to tell these stories–to make space for Syrian refugees and others who have become part of our urban fabric to tell their stories.