Let's play city: Mini-Medina in Egypt

A city made and run by children: learning citizenship through role-play in a safe environment
Uli von Ruecker
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3 Team Members

MINI-MEDINA: a project for the Egyptian children by the Egyptian children

Our project started in October 2012, building ground to create a city made by children in Egypt. In this city children are the government, make the laws and the constitution, build the buildings and the streets. They select their professions adopting a role-play model, and they run the city.The first pilot mini-medina took place on 20 January 2013 in Cairo.

Today we can say that the pilot phase that concluded with the 5th mini-medina edition has been a success, and we are ready to continue and grow, with your help! In our experimental phase we have had an open mind, experimenting with the project in different locations of Cairo and other Egyptian cities: mini-medina took place three times in Cairo (twice inMuqqatam in cooperation with Alwan wa Awtar NGO, once at darb1718 cultural centre in cooperation with selmiya initiative), once in Abu Sir and once in Alexandria (with Alashanek ya Baladi).

We are entering a second phase now, with new locations, longer duration of play cities, more training for participating adults, and more children involved


Mini-Medina is a group of highly motivated Egyptians and long-time residents that seek to review the vision of society that Egyptian children have. For six months the core team of mini-medina (Nairy A, Mohamed el Khatteeb, Muhammad Nasr, Ulrike von Ruecker and Paloma Yáñez) has worked to train over one hundred facilitators in Cairo and other Egyptian cities. These facilitators have become the mini-medina messengers to the children, guiding the activities and carrying out different dialogue dynamics with the children to brainstorm a better city. The entire team is part of a network of alternative education facilitators in Egypt which mini-medina is trying to formalize. Up to now, all facilitators and trainers have worked in a voluntary manner. We work in Rasheed22, a coworking space in Cairo, and we continue to develop different partnerships to spread all around the city and the country!


January to June 2013

The pilot phase of the project has been based on our one day medina-model:

When: Once a month in a different location

Cost to attend: Free and upon a voluntary agreement with the children

Who: Neighborhood children between the ages of 6-16

How Many Kids: All neighborhood kids are welcome. Up to now we have been working with 50 children at a time, but we aim to make Mini-Medinas for 600 children a day in the second phase of the project

Where has Mini-Medina started: Mini-Cairo, Mini-Muqqatam, Mini-Selmeya, Mini-Alexandria and Mini-Abu Sir.

Where is Mini-Medina going: Mini-Siwa, Mini-Nweiva, Mini-Aswan, Mini-Menya, Mini-Dar el Ahmar and much more!!

What do you do in a Mini-Medina day: Brainstorm about what are the feature of the city that we like and those that we would like to change, draw the ideal city, make the projects the city buildings in groups of 5 to 10 children, build the structures with recycled materials, paint the buildings, make the customs, select a profession within the city, play the city, meet other children, reflect upon the city, experiment with the mechanisms of the city, make the rules and laws, play with the concept of citizenship and have fun!


One day Mini-Medina model: In the next six months we plan to continue using the one day city model in the new locations: Siwa, Aswan, Nweiva, Menya...

Play the city Mini-Medina model: In Cairo and Abu Sir we will take the model to the next phase of the project that steps up from simply building the city and works more with the functioning and mechanisms of the city. We will make cities specific of different professions, for instance the craft city is a project that we are developing in Dar el Ahmar in Cairo, in this case the city will be made with wood and carton, to last for at least a week. With the aid of traditional Egyptian craft makers, who will be the facilitators, the children will be able to take different traditional crafts and spend a week experimenting with such professions. At this step the role-play becomes more realistic, and the children leave the role of city planners to become city doers, further deepening the citizenship exercise.

The Alternative Education network: The Mini-Medina team finds it fundamentally important to develop a network of alternative education facilitators in Egypt. Such network is still maturing, and to help the process we want to create an online space where the different projects can be discussed and developed. A framework, or umbrella where the facilitators can experiment and propose new ideas to improve the educational opportunities to Egyptian children. This network would of course be accompanied by different off-line events, meetings and encounters where we can learn from each other and support with trainings or ideas, the different projects. It will also serve as a portal for new people to integrate in the network, and a legitimacy base for the work in alternative education that is being done in Egypt.

Online platform for children: Although Mini-Medina is inclusive and free for all children of Cairo, there is a space and time limitation in every edition we do. Thus we want to create an online environment in which children can make suggestions, all year round, on how to improve Mini-Medina. The play city is their city, and they need to have time and space to propose new ideas, debate the best option among them and create effective changes to the play city.

Mini-Muenchen: The play city model exists in over 70 countries of the world. One of the biggest edition takes place in Munich every 2 years. In the summer of 2014 we plan to take a group of 14 Egyptian children to the Mini-Munich so they can participate and explore which aspects can be further explored in Egypt. The children that go will be part of the Mini-Medina children founding team!

Per diem: Six months down the road and our facilitators are still paying their own transportation costs and food when working in Mini-Medina. We love them for their support, but we would like to du justice to the effort of their work by providing a per diem salary.

Storage: Mini-Medina is built upon recycled materials (literally). For each edition, we have been gathering recycled material from our networks and up to know it has been stored in the coworking space Rasheed22. Now we have allocated a storage space in Abu Sir which we plan to rent to become the Mini-Medina Egypt storage facility!


We have worked, we have built, this is to show you that our project is meaningful ... However, now we need your help to continue! We are ready to work more, but ... unfortunately the mini-medina money is nothing but paper in real life - and we have emptied our pockets.

To play more, and train the needed facilitators, we need a total of EUR 8,000.-OUR COSTS that we need to cover:

1- one day mini-medina model: once a month edition for the year to come will cost EUR 1,500.- (including per diem)

2- play the city mini-medina model: one week craft city will cost EUR 1,500.-

3- establishing and curating the Alternative Education network: EUR 500.-

4- establishing and curating the interactive online platform for children: EUR 500.-

5- participation in mini-muenchen 2014: travel expenses and accommodation for 14 participants (10 children and 4 accompanying adults) EUR 4,000.-

6- materials storage and workspace: rent for one year EUR 500.-

Total: EUR 8,000.-

With this first campaign we aim to raise 50% of the total cost

For the other 50% we are fundraising from various sources, including a second campaign in July/August.

We are also contacting local organisations and institutional partners for financial and other support.


Not only we will be able to carry out the above mentioned steps, but we will be able to keep working towards developing citizenship and democracy values among Egyptian children!

Respect: towards each other and the city

Unity: to make a city look beautiful through collective work

Critical Thinking: through questioning existing structures and proposing creative ways of improvement.

Independence: by allowing for a degree of autonomy, creativity sparks and ideas are brought to life

Experimentation: how does a certain profession feel and why does s/he feel that way?

Creativity: The process of building their city allows children to imagine, fly, and dream. This will help them build an original future!


If in Egypt:

  • Become a facilitator!! Give Egyptian children a chance to get to know you, and yourself a chance to discover how Egyptian children want their society to be like!

  • Find a location for the next mini-medina... anywhere is great as long as the children want to build a city!

  • You would like to organize? Get in touch with us through mini.medina.egypt@gmail.com and we will welcome you to the team

  • Collect recyclables and write to us! We will come to pick them up!

  • You want to share your profession with the children? Write to us and we will welcome you as a activity host in one of the next mini-medinas

Find This Campaign On
raised in 26 days
27% funded
No time left
€5,500 EUR goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on July 9, 2014
Select a Perk
  • €1EUR
    One euro supporter

    For your belief in us, we will be sending you lots of positive energy and a mental hug.

    3 out of 100 claimed
  • €10EUR

    With your contribution you give us hope, you have taken a stone out of our path and you will receive a drawing from the children to thank you. You will also be informed of all developments of the project. We can send the letter and drawing by snail mail or online.

    8 out of 50 claimed
  • €50EUR

    With your contribution you will bring to mini-medina a pile of recycled materials for the children to build the city. If you wish your name will receive a space in the Wall of Helpers. You will receive an original and signed drawing and a letter from a participating children to thank you. You will also be informed of all developments of the project.

    8 out of 20 claimed
  • €150EUR

    With your contribution you bring tools to the city. The city becomes more realistic, and the children will be able to experiment with real tools and materials. Through the role play they are acquiring skills that will help them in their professional development. The children will produce an object of their creation specifically for you. Your name will receive a space in the wall of Apprentice. You will also receive a letter from the children.

    3 out of 20 claimed
  • €450EUR

    With your contribution you make possible the next edition of Mini Medina in Egypt. Your effort will allow 60 children to think, plan, build and take roles in their ideal city. You will receive a copy of the documentary of Mini Medina which tells the story of fantasy in Mini Medina. You will also be given a list of imaginative solutions to the problems of the city that the facilitators have gathered since the start of the project. Your name will receive a space in the roof of Makers.

    0 out of 5 claimed
  • €800EUR

    With your contribution you make possible the next three edition of Mini Medina in Egypt. We want to invite you to help us plan the next Mini Medina. You will receive a copy of the documentary of Mini Medina which tells the story of fantasy in Mini Medina and invited to the premiere in Cairo or Manchester. Your name will receive a space in the City Map. You will receive an invitation from the children to the city.

    0 out of 5 claimed
  • €2,000EUR

    With your contribution you give us wings to fly and scale up. With your help we will be able to make a one week long Mini Medina in Cairo in January 2015, and you will allow four representatives of the children to travel to Germany as Ambassadors of Mini Medina in Mini-Muenchen. You will receive a copy of the documentary of Mini Medina and invited to the premiere in Cairo or Manchester. You will receive an invitation from the children to the city.

    0 out of 1 claimed
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