Stamping the present with an act at CISV Egypt Powerpack Village 2017
Between July and August 2017 54 people from around the world descended upon The Littlest Lamb, Orabi, Cairo – Egypt with the aim to ‘Educate and inspire action for a more just and peaceful world’ through participating in a month long CISV International Village.
CISV International is a global organization dedicated to educating and inspiring for peace through building inter-cultural friendship, cooperation and understanding. Founded in 1950, today CISV is an organization of 69 Member Associations with over 200 Chapters or local groups. In over 60 years they have given countless children and young people the experience of their lives and the opportunity to build lasting friendships through their international educational programmes. The village programme – CISV’s flagship programme – is innovative, fun, a non-formal peace education environment where ‘learning by doing’ is the foremost thought. At the heart of all of CISV programmes is friendship, in line with the founding belief that peace is possible through friendship and mutual understanding. With participants from Austria, Brazil, Denmark, Egypt, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Mexico, Spain, Thailand and, the United States of America it promised to be an exciting month.
Upon arrival in Cairo we were met at the airport by members of the local chapter who whisked my 4 11 year old delegates off for a fun packed weekend of relaxing, sightseeing and having a great time while the adults made their way to the campsite to start their orientation and training weekend…but not before crashing into bed and sleeping off the travel! Over that weekend the Staff, Leaders and JCs became one group working closely together to plan the upcoming month for the excited, but nervous, participants who would be joining us in no time at all. That time came round quicker than we could imagine…we were still sticking up decorations as the participants arrived!
The first week flew over in a flurry of ‘get to know’ activities and the camp coming together. The highlight for many was our first excursion – to the Pyramids! As soon as we boarded the coach to leave the campsite you could feel the apprehension in the air: the closer we got the more excited everyone became to see the amazing sights that awaited us. Once they were finally in view everyone was amazed – lots of pictures where taken even before we had got off the bus! We were shown around by the amazing and knowledgeable guide, Mr. Waleed El Batouti, who is also a CISV parent, with lots of photo opportunities before we had a camel ride and souvenir shopping. Back onto the coach and we ventured past the Sphinx to a very interesting Pharonic Village where we all learnt about Ancient Egyptian life and culture – with a great boat ride to start with!
The pace on the second week of camp slowed down with more educational and thought provoking activities taking place. However a large excitement came with the camp Open Day: we opened our campsite up to the local CISV chapter, families and sponsors, as well as some special guests from the consulate of Brazil and USA. We all performed our national dance/song/show for everyone who came and everyone had a great day. To top off the day we were also filmed for an educational television show, with some of our participants even giving interviews for it! After the excitement of Open Day the kids went off for their second home stay weekend and the leaders, staff and JCs went for a well-deserved relaxing weekend at the red sea. After a relaxing weekend for everyone, we all came back to camp refreshed and ready to make the second half of camp as awesome as we could.
Knowing the camp was drawing to a close, over the next two weeks the activities increased in educational content and intensity – we ran simulations such as rich and poor and, disability day to give the children an insight into life from someone else’s point of view – it had great results and the children learnt so much! The intensity was broken up with our second camp excursion: to Kidzania and shopping day! Kidzania, an indoor city ran by kids that blends learning and reality with entertainment and where children can independently experience over 60 real-life activities and test their skills in a variety of professions. It was a massive hit with all of our participants – from dentists to chocolatiers and, firefighters to window cleaners the children gave every job their best effort and had a great time doing it. After the fun time at Kidzania we headed over to Cairo Festival City Mall for some lunch and shopping. With purchases in hand we headed back to the campsite to sleep off the tiredness the day had brought upon us.
The final week was soon upon us and with everyone aware how little time we had left with our new friends and family. The actives started to wind down and take a back seat as we all prepared to say goodbye – filling in our memory books, signing shirts and lots of tears where to follow that week – looking back being sad to leave everyone made us even closer. As the last night arrived we decided we would all share our best/happiest memory of the camp, or how we felt about the camp. We sat around the balcony all together after night fall slowly lighting a candle as we spoke telling all our friends about our memories and what we shall take away from camp, as the final person spoke the image of ‘CISV’ appeared on the floor in front of us made of the candles we had all lit. Even if one person had not been on that camp the CISV wouldn’t have been complete making the camp so different. To finish off our night we had a long lullabies session and spent time with our friends one last time before we leave. The next morning some delegations left early and some left later – but I think they all left a little bit of their heart in Egypt and with everyone they had met. Even now my delegation still talk about everyone they had met at camp – and I still remember all the friends I made on my village when I was eleven, it really is an experience that you never forget.
We all came to Egypt as strangers to each other and left as family, I know for sure we’ll meet again and as Doris Allen – CISV Founder – said ‘the ultimate source for peace, long range, lies with children’ and I think she couldn’t have been more right
By: Kieren Finney
Village Leader – CISV Great Britain
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