Seb’s Teddy Bear
I’ve now been to Cairo five times to work with FACE Egypt, our local CYTI network partner. We’ve been helping the FACE team for a year now, assisting them to start up their new project for street children and youth. It’s very exciting and interesting work, the team is progressing very quickly and they’re extremely eager to learn new methods. Beside this work, UNICEF Egypt has asked FI to organize training on Street Outreach work and Non Formal Education for another group of 10 NGOs working with street children in Cairo.
This time, Birgit (aka ‘Vicious B’), FI’s Social Work Technical Assistant, and Tracy (also called ‘The Mad Professor’), FI’s Non Formal Education Technical Assistant, both came with me to Cairo to provide training and technical support to the FACE team and to the group of NGOs in their specialties. However, bad news came quickly while we were preparing the trip… the boss, Sebastien, wanted to join us in Cairo…
I tried to tell him about the high risks of infectious diseases in Cairo, the recent flu outbreak, I mentioned the exceptional and free concert of Celine Dion (his favorite singer) in Phnom Penh in January … but nothing worked – he was insistent on joining us. Reluctantly we accepted our fate – but had to admit that Seb might be useful for the meetings with important stakeholders in Cairo.
So at the end of our training, Seb arrived in Cairo. I had prayed that the jetlag would send him straight to bed but he was fired up and ready to start work as usual!
The first day we went to meet big international institutions, we had very interesting meetings and everything was going perfectly fine when Seb, our Executive Director, went to get something from his bag and pulled out a teddy bear… OK, so it was a very cute teddy bear – but not the best thing for our credibility as a professional organisation. He tried to explain that his 3 year old son Dorian had lost his teddy bear on a plane and that he had just got it back in Paris… Everyone smiled politely at his attempt to make up a story to explain why he was carrying a teddy bear…
The next day we were between El Monib (where a small NGO called Al Mawa is running a small but great project) and Salem, in Cairo’s suburbs to visit the newly opened FACE drop in center. And here is where it started again… after playing the Scorpion game with the kids, Sebastian insisted that he took a photo of the bear – with a local donkey. Our translator Mohamed Sami spent half of the day trying to explain fruit sellers with their carts what Seb wanted to do and asking them if their donkey would be in the photo with the teddy bear… After many attempts, one finally agreed, but I think he was scared and just wanted us to go away!
We also took time to visit the FACE and Al Mawa centers where Seb introduced the bear to everyone…
After a last visit to the EU delegation, Seb wanted the teddy bear to have a cup of tea with a chicha…fortunately we convinced him that the bear was underage and too young to smoke.
What can I say, we work with children, I guess he must be trying to stay in touch with our target group….by acting like one?
On the last evening, I found Seb in the hotel’s lobby, sad and consoling himself with another cup of tea, explaining to the bear they couldn’t visit the pyramids this time but promising they would come back soon…
Dorian, please don’t let your father leave Phnom Penh again. At least until he grows up!