November ‘15
Insight Interview

November ‘15
Nora Moustafa, Head of Operations at Marwa Fayed's Toy Run
Nora Moustafa, Head of Operations at Marwa Fayed's Toy Run


    


What can you tell us about yourself?

My name is Nora Moustafa, I am the head of operations at Marwa Fayed's Toy Run. Due to family issues, I decided to quit my corporate career and started working with NGOs. The NGO world is full of joy, and is extremely rewarding. It may not pay as well as a corporate job, but the emotional satisfaction and gratification I get at the end of every day is overwhelming. I'm glad to be in the business of making children happy.


Tell us the story of MFTR (Marwa Fayed's Toy Run)?

Initially Marwa Fayed's Toy Run was called The Cairo Toy Run. It was a small activity done by Marwa Fayed and her friends and family (may she rest in peace). They would gather up, buy toys, wrap them and distribute them as they go. In 2013, Marwa sadly lost her life after giving birth to her daughter Teela. Omar Samra, who is Marwa's husband, decided that he wants to start something to keep Marwa's name alive. Initially, he called on people to gather 200 toys to be distributed before the end of Ramadan. The response was massive, as everyone wanted to participate. People gathered under Marwa's name and they started creating channels abroad, collecting toys and distributing them to needy children. Today we operate in more than six countries, on volunteer levels, with a minimum of two-toy drives/month. Two years ago, we applied for MBC Group's Award for Humanitarian Causes, MBC Al-Amal, and we won. This was our queue to start something more organized and well established. Marwa Fayed's Toy Run came to life.


Can you tell us more about the work your organization does?

We like to claim that we are in the business of making children happy and spreading smiles. The core of our business is collecting toys and distributing them to children across the globe. We hate boundaries and limitations, and think a child is a child wherever they are. Recently we have started a campaign with DHL Express MENA and Rotary Heliopolis ElNozha collecting funds to reopen the schools in Syrian Refugee Camps ElZatari and ElZarqaa. We believe that every child has the right to a toy and this toy is their gateway to a better life.


What barriers do you face as an NGO in Egypt?

Bureaucracy would be on top of our list. The governmental bodies need to work to speed up their paperwork. Funding would be another barrier. Several individuals and companies underestimate the importance of NGOs in societies, and they lack social responsibilities. Another important struggle is explaining that we work across the world; some Egyptians have a mind set that anything collected should be distributed only inside Egypt, which is insane. A child in need is a child in need no matter where he is located or where he is from.


What are MFTR's values?

We believe in equal opportunities. We believe in the lost virtue of giving. We believe in raising a generation of givers instead of takers. We call on people to teach their children to give to the needy and to make it a habit. So many children across the world need support, and so little help is being offered.


How were you able to reach worldwide recognition? And how do you feel about this?

This is a very good question. I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every person behind our success. Our volunteers that handle our channels surprise us on daily bases with the amount of dedication and commitment to the cause. It's because of these super forces of nature that we continue to grow.


What's the importance of having a public figure like Omar Samra as the CEO of MFTR?

Omar Samra is not just our CEO, but he is a man that has set the benchmark for everyone around him really high. He is a committed father, a brilliant manager, and he also has a vision that really goes beyond his age. We make use of him all the time! Being a popular/ public figure, he has access to many fans and resources that help us spread our message in a much faster and more effective manner.


What are your goals for the next five years?

We aim at being everywhere! Our main goal is to be able to set standards for other organizations that support children. We are looking forward to starting an active office/channel/ chapter in every country around the world. For today we settle for an office in every continent. In 5 years, we are aiming to be the number one toys' collection and distribution NGO in the world.


By Rania Ihab