Have you ever woken up feeling that you want to make the difference? Ever day dreamed about your destiny and the direction life is leading you to? Think about the paths we cross in meeting strangers who ultimately become lifelong friends. Places that become memories of wonderful experiences.
After attending the Rimini meeting as a speaker for the first time in 2009, I observed many attributes that the volunteers projected to make the meeting a success. Firstly, the managing of the dignitaries/speakers accumulating for one special event, and how they were processed in a smooth and orderly manner. The energy in which the volunteers gave as if they represented the entire population of Italy. I found that it didn’t matter what level of volunteer they were, they projected enthusiasm and energy. They were on a high. There were many questions I asked myself: what are these volunteers getting from this event? What’s in it for them? Why are they so happy?
The answers were simply: Meeting people from culturally, religiously and ethnically diverse back grounds, exchanging dialogue and discussing opinions that the rest of the world seems to have so much difficulty in understanding. So after my return to Egypt, my colleagues and I brainstormed the idea of holding a similar meeting in Cairo. We agreed that Egypt needed to show the rest of the world that our people are also really and willing to converse in dialogue with people of different beliefs and background, and to showcase Egypt’s strengths: its people. Our volunteers travelled from every corner of Egypt’s vast lands, showing dedication to the cause and offering assistance and resources to make this event the best. Everyone agreed from the organizers, volunteers to sponsors that everyone should have their own space to participate and give as they want, without fear of punishment or reprimand. We are not poor, we are all rich when we offer to help others without thought of returns.
But when can we volunteer? Depending on my personal experience, the decision comes at a crucial moment: a moment everyone keeps to test him/her and give encouragement. In such moment, man realizes him/herself as it is distinct. Volunteering makes people equal, if not where would you be? In Cairo Meeting we did not set ordinances of faith, we start with reality, not texts. We look at each other to make the human experience unlimited variety in all of us whether for an individual or as a group. A sense of spiritual wellbeing and approach to meetings can only give a feeling of refreshment and positive warmth that penetrates the mind and soul. Leaving, a relaxed, non violent and stress free environment. To feel the essence and spirit of people without speaking a word, just a smile as a means of communicating with each other, or a quick glance to know exactly what is needed of them. This was Cairo Meeting: 230 volunteers working like ants day and night to make sure that the event was a success.
This atmosphere creates a sense of belonging to the humane society that we seem to lack nowadays. In speaking with our volunteers, I told him about what I witnessed in Rimini, the time I saw a Minister of Justice being served by a young ex-convict without any hesitation or anxiety. The message was: “You are here and I am representing justice with you”. The scene of young teenage boys and girls standing arranging traffic in garages and giving advice to people not to park where you would be violating the law. But the one time that I stood back and watched in amazement, was when a group of “red t-shirt” volunteers surrounded the Italian Minister of labor as if they were the CIA! These scenes were also reminiscent of our meeting in Cairo. Clearly it doesn’t matter your background people can, with the will of god and a sense of belonging and meaning give more than 100%.
The evidence of this reflects the bridge between the Rimini and Cairo meeting. Our first event, opening night attracted over 2,300 guests. At the closing ceremony noone sensed a feeling of “Thank god it is over” more a sense of achievement and disappointment that the event had ended. A week after the event, the volunteers met to ask when the next event will be and to start preparations. Till now the same group regularly organizes, and have been actively involved in the current events in Egypt.
For me, it has, and will continue to be, a journey that gives me great delight in watching and assisting people in an atmosphere where they show the true meaning of humanity without any influence from the outside world we all live in.