November ‘15
Insight Interview

November ‘15
Mary Sherif:Co-organizer of Old Is Cool Festival
Mary Sherif:Co-organizer of Old Is Cool Festival


    


Tell us about FACE and its mission?

FACE has a mission to assist and protect orphans, street children, their families and communities in Egypt regardless of race, culture or religion. Reintegration is a primary goal for FACE. The children that FACE cares for are given the needed support in hope of reintegrating them back in society through several channels, including reintegration in education, work, biological families or surrogate families. I would like to highlight that FACE isn't an orphanage. FACE approaches the street children's families in an attempt to improve their living conditions and rehabilitate the entire family, making them a fit surrounding for the children. As a glimpse through history, FACE has succeeded at reintegrating 495 street children in society, as well as providing 388 children with surrogate families since 2004.


Who are the people behind Face?

FACE was founded by Flavia Shaw-Jackson and Ahmed Khattab in 2003, along with 170 other employees. Although all projects are actually initiated, executed and managed in Egypt, it is only the 'upper management' that is based in Belgium. Back in 2003 FACE was handling two projects that were not initially started by them, but starting 2005 they began their own projects.


How was this theme performed and fulfilled through the festival?

We had Nilco with their life-sized games, 'Qahwet El so7bageya' (Friends Cafe) with drinks, mini games, cards and live singing by groups of friends. Our food court had varieties of food and a station for school sandwiches. Last but not least we had chalkboards all over the place asking people to share their school memories under different topics like: first love, funniest pranks, pocket money, etc... Also, entrepreneurs at the bazaar were selling vintage items.


How did the event help the children of FACE organization?

Aside from the money that was raised, FACE was also looking for awareness of the cause and awareness for FACE itself and how everyone can help in different ways. Their main aim is reintegrating those children into society and not make them feel like they are outcasts.


What is the idea behind the festival 'Old is Cool'?

We are four friends who have worked together during college in ALMUN, a student activity and later in TEDxCairo, and we fell in love with the idea of event planning to an extent that we wanted to open our own agency someday. When Seif Taher started to work for FACE he wanted to plan a fund-raising event and so he called Salma Sadek, Ahmed Hammoud and myself to work on a fund-raising event for FACE. That's when we looked at the different causes that FACE supports and one of them was paying tuition fees for children. Believing that education is one of the most important factors in building a better future, we decided that we'd organize an event to support that cause in particular.


Why did you choose this theme?

The theme was basically chosen right after the cause. We thought if we wanted to send children to school, we must remind everyone what it was like to be in school and what a privilege it had been, and revive all the memories we have made during school days and to focus on how those children have the same right to make the same memories. We also thought that the best timing for the event is when schools start.


What was the festival's attendees and contributors role in helping 'Old is Cool' goal?

With each five tickets one child is sent to school, and we raised enough money to send about 200 children to school. I hope that the festival's attendees were brought to focus on the cause and the importance of education. We want them to spread that as much as they can to make it sustainable for as many children as we can.


By Rania Ihab