November ‘15
Insight Interview

November ‘15
Hashem Raafat:Founder Of Mashrou El-Sadaa
Hashem Raafat:Founder Of Mashrou El-Sadaa


A lot of people believe that helping others in need must involve money, what do you think of this principle?

I get to hear this every day. In Egypt we do that all the time; we give people money and food, so why not direct our efforts to something different like their feelings? I can have everything I basically need'¦ money, food, and shelter, but still not be happy. That's why in Mashrou El Saada we decided to focus on the inner happiness of those we get the chance to help. People might say it's nothing worthy or noticeable, but I'm sure that it is clearly remarkable and leaves a lasting impact.

What is the concept behind Mashrou El Saada, and tell us the name relevance!

The concept of Mashrou El-Saada is helping people by cheering them up through renovating popular public areas in Egypt and making them colourful thus utilizing colour therapy in lifting people's mood and morale. And so coming up with the name was an easy consequence once our mission was clear; it's a project for happiness.

What made you initiate this project and for how long have you been doing it?

This project was initiated two years ago'¦ I wanted to use all my experience and what I am good at in one project. As I am a student of architecture, an organizer of street art shows, a team leader in many charity organizations and a creative activity director.

Why did you choose painting in particular to help people?

Well, I chose to help with what I am good at. I can create designs, have a passion for colours and arts, and so I believe that this directly touches peoples' hearts.

Where have you been doing the project other than Cairo?

First in Cairo, we've painted Darb Saada and Gedawy Street in old Cairo, and in Maadi the South Africa refugees school. We've also been in Fayoum to paint a primary school there, in Nubia where we painted eight homes of Nubian residents.

Where do you get the money you need for Mashrou El Saada?

We get them through sponsorship and donations from people who believe in the importance of our project. We not only get the materials sponsored, but also the means to our goal, our transportation to our destinations, our accommodation etc...

How do you choose the places you paint?

We choose popular areas, not slums, and areas that need to be revived and need more attention in Egypt to direct people's sight towards it. We create a beautiful place where people would love to visit, look at and be interested in.

How do you make sure that the paintings come out beautifully and actually spread happiness?

We have a design team in Mashrou El Saada that create a proposal for the designs within days before the event. We also go visit the places we are targeting before we start painting, live there for several days, live the experience with the residents, and do surveys about what would satisfy them and make them happy. We also show them what we have in mind and are always open to their opinions and suggestions.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your project?

Money stays always our biggest challenge. Other than money, everything else seems so easy. We have enough volunteers to help with enthusiasm, and we are extremely welcomed anywhere we initiate the project.

By Rania Ihab