ArabLit & ArabLit Quarterly are honored to be media sponsors of the Qisaty Project in Egypt:
By Leonie Rau
Launched by Mona Lamloum in late December, 2019, Qisaty is an initiative carried out entirely by volunteers and aimed at empowering children with and without disabilities to write and draw their own stories. Lamloum and her team hope that as a result of this initiative, “Many more children will learn about the experiences of children just like them” and that it will “have helped the participants take the first steps on their path towards creativity and learning.”
The first storytelling workshop took place on February 4, 2020, but the workshops had to be paused on March 16 due to the outbreak of the pandemic. The drawing workshops were then resumed in September 2020.
In total, 60 children between 6 and 14 years of age participated in the storytelling workshops hosted by Lamloum, Hanan El-Taher, and Zainab Mobarak, with 20 talented participants chosen for writing workshops conducted by Lamloum and Yaqoub El-Sharouni.
For the drawing workshops, the Qisaty organizers cooperated with two associations for disabled children: Nida Society Rehabilitation with branches in Cairo and Luxor, and Ashab El-erada Association in Alexandria. Nineteen disabled children with hearing disabilities, partial blindness, movement disorders, and learning difficulties took part in the workshops where they drew pictures to the stories produced by children in the writing workshops. Each drawing illustrates a different scene from a short story inspired by the children themselves, using different materials.
These workshops resulted in 16 short stories and 64 drawings, which were published in a book, سلم بين عالمين, at the end of February. Copies are being donated to public libraries in Egypt in order to reach the broadest audience of children.
The Qisaty team is particularly proud to have overcome the many difficulties they encountered due to the pandemic, especially in working with often immunocompromised children with disabilities and/or chronic diseases. They met these challenges with the help of their two partner associations and were thus able to safely conduct the workshops.
Asked about her ideas for future workshops, Lamloum says she hopes “to expand the workshops to all of Egypt and to find sponsors who are interested in supporting that.” She adds that it has been her dream for more than a year to bring together children who are motivated to write their stories with children who are motivated to draw these stories.
The Qisaty organizers were sponsored by AMIDEAST and Nahdet Misr Publishing House, as well as several media partners.
Leonie Rau is ArabLit Quarterly’s editorial assistant.