As the holy month rolls around and charities witness an uptick in the inflow of funds, it’s inevitable we’ll be trying to think of ways to give back; the media bombards us with it in any case. But what about lesser known organizations that could also use a helping hand? Maybe you want to teach people in underprivileged communities, or raise awareness about a social issue you care about, which is arguably more impactful than other widely promoted forms of giving.
We’ve rounded up a few interesting, yet a bit off the grid groups, schools and centers around Egypt to give you an idea of where to start giving back in Ramadan.
Founded by Columbian-Dutch expat and longtime Siwa resident Yuridiya Montoya, ConnectIn Groups is the first training center in the remote oasis. ConnectIn aims to make educational programs accessible for everyone in Siwa, breaking the barriers that might stand in the way of community members from reaching their full potential. Although it first started with only English-language courses, the project has now evolved to offer lessons in Arabic and Italian, as well as computer courses.
Working in a conservative community like Siwa, where women are not permitted to visit public places alone, ConnectIn also hold courses at home for women and take on young girls as students.
All courses offered by the center are accredited. You can help by offering a donation through ConnectIn’s website to contribute to the cost of students’ materials or other equipment, or apply to volunteer as a teacher.
To learn more, visit connectingroups.com
What started out as an ambitious social art photography project is evolving into a community service center, catering to the needs of Saint Catherine’s Bedouin population in South Sinai, who suffer from a shortage in healthcare and educational services.
The Jabaleya tribe inhabiting the protectorate is an indigenous population often subject to discrimination; however, award-winning photographer Rehab Eldalil hopes to change that. The center provides the local community with a first-of-its kind opportunity to access medical services, take classes and pursue income-generating activities.
Eldalil explains in a Youtube video that members of the tribe have, in critical situations, lost their lives while being transported to another city for urgent medical care that wasn’t immediately available, making Catherine Exists incredibly important.
The project was made possible in part due to a collaboration with Hand Over, a social enterprise that worked on the design and construction of the Catherine Exists site.
Volunteers are needed in various fields, from physicians and tutors to fundraisers. They are also calling for donations of medical equipment.
To find out more, visit catherineexists.weebly.com
Animal Care in Egypt (ACE)
Based in Luxor, ACE targets veterinary students as well as animal lovers with no prior experience, to prevent and raise awareness about the suffering of working animals through educating the local community, owners and children about the abuses these animals face.
A registered charity, ACE’s veterinary hospital works according to UK standards. Trip Advisor reviews list it as “worth visiting” and an “Amazing charity—not to be missed if you are in Luxor!”
ACE runs a charity shop and hospital to serve the animals. Its website lists guidelines for how anyone can help, in any form, from selling cakes to being wary of riding carriages led by badly treated animals.
For more, visit ace-egypt.org.uk
Founded in 2010, Educate Me seeks to improve the well-being of financially underprivileged children by providing educational programs that help them achieve their dreams. The foundation has received various awards over the years, including the 2012 Child Film Festival Award and the 2013 King Abdullah II Award for Youth Innovation and Achievement.
Educate Me started as an initiative to reinstate school dropouts after founder Yasmine Helmy encountered a man on the streets who had taken his three daughters out of school due to poverty. Today, Educate Me has expanded to run a pre-school facility, a government-certified community school and a professional development program. According to their website, Educate Me trained 2,500 school teachers and staff members in 93 public schools across six governorates in 2016.
Educate Me accepts donations through their website and is seeking volunteers in varied fields, from facilitators to translators.
To learn more, visit educateme-egypt.org
Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals (ESMA)
ESMA works to improve the welfare of all animals in Egypt, including street dogs and cats. It has animal shelters, holds adoption campaigns, and raises awareness concerning the enforcement of animal welfare legislation and combating the government’s policy of killing street animals.
Shelters are located in Giza, and volunteer opportunities include foster parenting, socializing with animals, as well as assisting with shelters cleaning and organization. You can also help by providing or financing needed items listed under their wish list on the website, including veterinary equipment and medicine. ESMA runs a sponsorship program as well to help offset the costs of medical care, food and housing for the 1,000 animals held at their shelters.
To learn more, visit esmaegypt.org
St. Andrew’s Refugee Services (StARS)
StARS seeks to provide services catering to the needs of refugees and asylum seekers, and to provide a space for migrants to meet in a safe and supportive environment. StARS’ programs include psychological services, advocacy for accessing medical services, providing food and hygiene boxes for unaccompanied children and an emergency response program.
Working with UNHCR, StARS seeks to provide refugees with protection and resettlement as needed. Their community outreach program works to improve the situation of refugee services in Egypt to provide targeted assistance.
StARS is recruiting volunteer English teachers and small-group tutors, teachers of professional development courses, and volunteer legal advisors. Modest donations can help finance their activities as well.
To find out more, visit stars-egypt.org