Image and Drawing by Hamdy Reda
SAFARNI (meaning "Take me Traveling" in Arabic)
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”- PROUST
WHO AM I? RAPHAELLE AYACH- SAFARNI FOUNDER
My name is Raphaelle Ayach, I am a French-American documentary filmmaker, I also facilitate film courses and dialogue sessions.
My films focus on people and cultures around the world. I’m passionate about the idea that by witnessing other cultures, we can learn a lot about how to live more fully and more harmoniously.
Four years ago, I moved from Spain to Cairo and have been residing here ever since.
WHY I WAS INSPIRED AND WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT:
Planes are the ultimate invention, giving you a bird's eye view of the earth (literally), stretching the limits of your assumptions. They allow us to be immersed in foreign cultures, so that we can experience it through all our senses, opening doors to inspiration, friendships and tolerance.
Throughout my travels I discovered that one feels most accepting and supportive of another culture or way of life, when they have experienced some sort of emotional connection to it. When speaking of intercultural understanding it’s vital to understand the power of these emotional connections; this happens when you open yourself to experiencing the "other" by connecting with them through your heart (friendship, love) and senses (listening, tasting, dancing, swaying....), much like one does when traveling. These experiences are actually felt, and that is the key to their power. Once we care for someone it becomes much harder to be unforgiving of difference. Once we realize everyone has a story it becomes much harder to demonize. Once we discover the beauty of traveling, it's hard to go back to how we saw the world before.
Unfortunately, most of humanity cannot easily travel.
I decided to create a simulated travel experience which would not only be mind-opening and fun, but also create a framework for this emotional connection to happen due to its experiential approach.
Now, Egyptian kids that otherwise would have no opportunity to travel, get the traveling experience brought to them in their very neighborhood! (Please watch above video for proof... and to simultaneously satisfy your desire for seeing ridiculously cute children)
Where: Artellewa Cultural Center, Ard Ellewa, Giza (Cairo area)
- When: Twice a month (each time a different country or culture)
- Cost to attend: Free
- Who: Neighborhood children between the ages of 5-13
- How Many Kids: All neighborhood kids are welcome, but our space only fits 30 children at a time, most children are now "regulars" and come back excitedly every time.
- Where we've gone so far: Italy, France, Colombia, India, Brazil, Germany
- Where we are heading: Morocco, Holland, Nuba (Southern region of Egypt), Canada, South Korea
- What do you do in a Safarni day: meet people from the culture and with them, taste their food, dance to their dances, play their games, watch their cartoons, learn their language and much more!
Children showing off their Safarni boarding passes- necessary for getting on the plane!
IMPACT SO FAR:
On the first Safarni day none of the children could not locate Egypt on a map, nor did any references come to mind when the names of the countries we’ve traveled to were first mentioned (except for one child who did know of the Eiffel tower, and that Italy had trees).
These same kids can now ask you how you're doing in Italian, dance to Bollywood music, play games from Côte d'Ivoire, tell you why Colombian food is the best, how many hours by plane between Cairo and Brazil and which countries we've been to have female presidents.
They’ll eagerly tell you that the most important Safarni rule is to respect difference, and when tempted to use words like “weird” or “bad” replace them with “different” or “new for me”.
But most importantly, these kids are now excited about traveling and excited about discovering new and different cultures! In other words...they're becoming comfortable around (and excited about) difference. YES! (Oh, did I mention they're also having insane amounts of fun?!...)
BUT REALLY, WHY DOES ALL THIS EVEN MATTER?
1) Tolerance + Respect = Unity. If our children can start seeing difference as something beautiful and rich, which they feel comfortable around, we're on our way towards a more tolerant world. Period. It's not an understatement to say that the future of humanity relies on how well we learn to coexist.
2) Witnessing diversity opens doors. By discovering other cultures and other stories, we also get used to seeing that there are a million ways to interpret each reality, a million options for what the future can look like, and that it's up for us to decide what inspires us most to be the person we want to be.
3) Love yourself… by knowing the true meaning of "culture", we learn to respect and care for our own culture.
Safarni Anecdote: On our first Safarni day ever we did the plane meditation to arrive at our new country. At the end of our activity-filled day in the new country, we told the kids, "Okay! We're done now!" and they looked up at us confused and said, "But aren't we going to go back home to Egypt?". It's the kids themselves that insisted upon the importance of a plane meditation home! (And as fun as the day was, when they got off the plane they shouted excitedly, “We’re back in Egypt!”)
WHAT IS LEFT TO ACHIEVE AND WHY WE NEED YOU!
It's simple, with the money raised we hope to fund TWO YEARS of Safarni Workshop!
Here is what we will do with our funds, in order of priority:
•Since we have no sponsorship, on a most basic level, we need your help in order to keep doing what we're doing: two Safarni days a month, in Ard Ellewa, for this year and the next year (=2 years)
• We want create and partake in celebrations from around the world (Day of the dead (Mexico), Carnaval (Brazil), Holi (India), and more!).
•We've started a small but beautiful intercultural library for the kids, to encourage their curiosity for learning, and we'd like to continue to expand it.
•These kids hardly ever get out of their neighborhood, we'd love to take them on field trips (ie, mini-travel experiences) even if it's just to other areas of Egypt or Cairo.
•We're discovering all these fascinating games, foods, dances, cartoons and much more, and we'd like to share them with YOU and the kids YOU know, by creating an online database of fun activities from around the world, accessible to all.
•From October 2013 we want to start expanding to more locations, so that other kids can benefit from these mind opening experiences!
What your money covers:
- 10$ = material to make 10 safarni passports for the kids
- 25$ = a beautiful book/atlas for the library
- 50$ = the entire “restaurant experience” for a Safarni day with the kids
- 75$ = a Safarni Day
- 120$ = a cultural celebration (Brazilian Carnaval pictures coming up!)
CAN'T DONATE?...NO WORRIES, YOU CAN STILL HELP US OUT!
If in Egypt:
•Get us in touch with your cultural centers or let them know that through Safarni they have a golden opportunity to share their culture in a meaningful and unforgettable way!
•Encourage your foreign friends to come share their culture!
•Share YOUR culture!
If on planet Earth (Egypt included):
• Share this page with all your friends, cultural or educational institutions!
• “Like” and “share” our facebook page: www.facebook.com/SafarniWorkshop
• Donate books or equipment!
• Decide to create an emotional connection with a culture you didn’t expect you’d open yourself towards (and be ready for surprises)!
We'd LOVE to hear from you! Feel free to contact us at:
Brazilian Carnaval Day!
RECENT PRESS ON SAFARNI:
*For all mailed perks, please allow for Egyptian mail be relaxed (cough cough, slow) but we promise your perk will get there!