Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Winter Coat Initiative

LEAD has started a special fund to purchase coats for those who are without during the winter months. Egypt may be known for being hot and sunny, but in the winter night temperatures drop as low as 6 degrees Celsius (43 degrees Fahrenheit) in downtown Cairo, with temperatures on the outskirts of the city where our programs are held being significantly lower (average 1 degree Celsius, 34 degrees Fahrenheit).

Many of the youth are without jackets and instead layering several shirts in an attempt to stay warm when attending programming during the evening hours. The Winter Coat Initiative provides jackets to those who are without through a local clothing store. Jackets cost 380 EGP ($69 USD) and allow the young men to stay warm and have an item that is high-quality, durable, and can be used for several years.

You can make a donation to the Winter Coat Initiative through our GiveMeaning website.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Ain Shams LEAD Center Elects Programming Board

LEAD Project participants in Ain Shams gathered this evening to elect members of their Programming Board. The Programming Board is comprised of five individuals - the LEAD Field Assistant plus four "point persons" in the following areas: education, sports, vocational training, and income generation. Member serve three month terms and before the group reassembles and votes to replace them or keep them in their current positions. The Programming Board meets with the Director and Program Manager of LEAD once per month to discuss fund raising and financial issues and ensure that the programs being offered accurately reflect the needs of the target population in the area.

The assembly of the LEAD Project participants (almost 70 in total) indicates youth taking ownership of the project, perhaps one of the most difficult things to accomplish with a voluntary program for at-risk individuals.

Programming Boards are a key component to the long-term sustainability of the project. Over time, board members undergo training and begin to play a more active role in the administration of the LEAD Center bringing us closer and closer to our long-term goal of youth centers operated by former at-risk youth to offering programs to prevent violence and crime.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Launch of GiveMeaning Website

We have received (and surpassed!) the required number of votes to include Youth LEAD as a project on, which means we are now eligible to receive individual donations through our website --

The GiveMeaning website is being used to raise funds specifically for two important components of our program for which we currently do not have funding:

Component #1: Rental of sporting facilities 4 hours per week in 4 locations.

We currently have funding to rent basketball and soccer fields in the areas of Ain Shams and Hadeyek el Maadi for the next ten weeks. Reliable access to sports activities, particularly team sports such as basketball and soccer, provide structured outlets and activities for young men during evening hours, which are “high risk” times for violent and criminal activities. Furthermore, these sporting activities teach concepts of teamwork and camaraderie. Pilot programming has demonstrated that sports activities introduce more young men to other programs; over 50% of current participants were introduced to the Project through sponsored sports programming.

Our goal is to raise $3000 in order to continue renting these facilities for all of 2009 as well as rent facilities in the areas of Hay el Ashr and Abbasiyya.

Component #2: Provide access to vocational training programs for 10 at-risk youth.
Access doesn't just mean availability of services. Several vocational training programs are available to refugees in Cairo through the Don Bosco Training Institute and the CEOSS training institute. However, at-risk youth are unable to access these programs due to the costs of registration, transportation, and living expenses during a full-time program that leaves them unable to work. LEAD would like to begin sponsorship programs for at-risk youth that would pay the registration fees for the course and provide weekly living stipends during the program as long as attendance rates stay over 80%.

Our goal is to raise $2000 to allow 10 youth to attend such programs.

Please share information about our new fundraising site ( with your friends and colleagues to help us reach our goal of $5000.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

LEAD's first hip-hop production now on YouTube!

I am pleased to share with you the first hip-hop production of one of the hip-hop groups working with the LEAD Project -- a video by Unigunz rapper Amin Jalloh titled "Slim J." The song shares Jalloh's experience as a refugee here in Cairo - he is the sole creator of the beats and lyrics, both of which were produced thanks to the amazing volunteer work of Mitchell Sipus.

Mitch has been working with LEAD since October, more intensely with current rappers but also with our at-risk youth programs helping young men share their experiences through music and words. Our goal is to equip them with the tools and confidence necessary to use music as a medium to share their experiences with the world.

You can watch the video on YouTube at We'll be sure to keep you posted as we continue to produce more videos by Unigunz and other refugee hip-hop groups in Cairo.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Welcome to our blog!

This blog has been created to keep colleagues, partner organizations, donors, and others interested in our work up-to-date on our progress and plans. We will post here stories that are relevant to work with at-risk youth or refugee youth, and developments in our project, and other information you may find interesting. We hope you enjoy it!