Egypt hosts nearly five million refugees on its soil, the second largest number of them are from Africa. Vast numbers of them are women who still suffer from the cultural shock and isolation of a new society.
Some NGOs have taken the responsibility to empower female refugees in Egypt, helping them integrate into the society through different programmes, including healing with art.
The Egyptian Refugee Multicultural Council, Tadamon (Solidarity in English), founded in 2004, has as its main goal the rehabilitation of refugees in Egypt in general. Currently, they are working on a project called “Malazy” (My safe space) funded by the EU in 2018. Malazy aims to support female refugees particularly, especially in the Hadayeq El-Maadi neighbourhood, which is a key spot for the refugee community in Cairo.
The organisation provides female refugees with much needed support on several levels; legally, psychologically, medically, socially, etc. They do this by arts, dance, cooking, yoga, and trying to help them adapt to society.
Part of Malazy’s activities is a dance workshop conducted by the Italian dancer, Maria Stella, who came to Cairo to organise the one-week project. She held a dance workshop for women, mainly refugees from African countries. The workshop aimed to help women express their cultures though dance, in order to make a link between their roots and their current circumstances, presenting themselves to the society they live in through dance and arts.
The project was essential for the women. It was a chance to make them be more open to expressing their culture, giving them the psychological aid they need to forget what they have suffered, before fleeing their countries, and to make them voice their interests to society.
On International Women’s Day, refugee women are in need of being listened to and being seen. They have suffered enough. It is time to provide them with the necessary support, and to ease their integration into society, not only in Egypt but in the whole world.
A Sudanese woman playing drums at the first day of Malazy workshop at Tadamon Maadi centre on October 30th, 2018.
A Somalian woman performing “Zar” dance, a traditional African dance for healing, at Tadamon Maadi centre on October 30th, 2018.
Stella and Sudanese women developing dances for the show at Gomhoria theatre on the second day of the workshop at Tadamon downtown centre on October 31st, 2018.
A woman rehearsing the show dances at Tadamon downtown centre on October 31st, 2018.
Stella, African women rehearsing the show dances at Tadamon downtown centre on October 31st, 2018.
Women playing drums on the third and last day of the workshop at a dance studio in Garden City, Cairo, Egypt on November 1st, 2018.
Stella, African women performing before the audience at Gomhoria Theatre, Cairo Opera House, Cairo, Egypt on November 2nd, 2018.
Stella and the participants greeting the audience at Gomhoria Theatre, Cairo Opera House, Cairo, Egypt on November 2nd, 2018.
The last show Stella performed with the African women at Darb 1718 Cultural Centre on November 3rd.
A woman performing a dance from her culture at Darb 1718 Cultural Centre on November 3rd.
Women performing the dance at Darb 1718 Cultural Centre on November 3rd.
A Sudanese woman playing drums during the show at Darb 1718 Cultural Centre on November 3rd.
Participating women during the show at Darb 1718 Cultural Centre on November 3rd.
The second day of the workshop at Tadamon Centre in Downtown, Cairo, Egypt, October 31st, 2018.
Women performing at Darb 1718 theatre on November 2nd, 2018.
A woman using her traditional Sudanese sewing in dances – Darb 1718, Cairo, Egypt, November 2nd, 2018.
The woman rehearsing sewing while dancing at the first day of the workshop on October 30th, 2018.