Tatweer Misr Promotes Revival of the Culture and Soul of Egypt’s Forgotten Communities with a Touch of Color

Egyptian developer Tatweer Misr is kicking off 2017 with goodwill and flair. In its latest CSR project, Tatweer Misr has partnered with Mashrou El Saada to turn Heissa into inspiring artworks thereby offering opportunities to locals, while making their community a nicer place to live in. A strong social therapy that could unlock local potential, boost pride, self-esteem and send a positive message to the outside world.

Heissa Island in Aswan is the only remaining island in the area that has yet to be swallowed by the Nile River. This impoverished island is the only one left un-sunk from The Old Nubia after building The High Dam. Directly facing the Nile “this poor community has the potential of becoming a tourist destination with the help of a little imagination and color.” Says Ahmed Shalaby CEO of Tatweer Misr while discussing the project that allows for the renovation and coloring of houses in Heissa.

“Creating Value is one of the founding principles of Tatweer Misr “says Shalaby adding that ” Over the years we have sponsored Art symposiums and various entrepreneurial activities and as such, the current project is an extension of our objectives and exemplifies the importance we place on those issues.” Egypt has over a thousand slums boasting a population that exceeds 12 million impoverished citizens. Unsurprisingly, these conditions have a negative psychological effect on those living in them and Egyptians often feel they are forgotten”. As Shalaby explains “Our goal, in the end, through such a simple act as painting houses is to bring joy to communities struggling with poverty and neglect. “

The houses that are being painted in Heissa are owned by people with very low income or depend on government subsidies. “Maintaining a home is the last priority for them,” Shalaby says. Through this project, Tatweer Misr, using the resources of Mashrou El Saada, is not only offering free painting of buildings, but also transforming the small island into living galleries. “This work,” Shalaby says,” helps residents to see their homes and neighborhoods in a new light. The designs and colors,” he adds, “change the local perception of value”.

A concept that is thousands of years old, today we know the impact that different colors can have on the mood and psychology of people. Art is a unique messenger, crossing borders and building bridges. If implemented in an intelligent way it can be a powerful weapon to catalyze social change. This is the main objective of Mashrou El Saada which was founded by Hashem Rafaat in 2013, to work on reviving the cultures and spirit of Egypt's old communities, by adding a touch of color to these forgotten places.

Today, Mashrou El Saada has successfully renovated and restored numerous Egyptian communities, including an area in Al Azhar, Haraat El Gedewaya, a school in Fayyoum and a refugee school for South Africans in Maadi. Working with a large team of volunteers made up of students from different faculties and universities across Egypt, Mashrou El Saada also employs a team of experts who are certified in color therapy to go into these areas and live with the local communities, so that the designs for these projects truly reflect the spirit and culture of each neighborhood to be developed. "Our aim is to get these communities involved in the process, so that our projects are sustainable. When the locals actually take part in the creation of the design and the renovation, they have a vested interest in maintaining and preserving its beauty," said Yara Dewidar, one of Mashru Saada founders.

As it stands, in 2016 Egypt ranks 120th in the UN’s 2016 world happiness report. The World Happiness Report, reflects growing global interest in using happiness and subjective well-being as primary indicators of the quality of human development. There is nothing more psychologically impactful and cost effective as a simple coat of paint.