Fellow Since 2009
Alwan wa Awtar
This profile was prepared when Azza Kamel was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2009.
The New Idea
Azza’s idea is to bridge the social gap that children from underprivileged areas suffer by equipping them with a vital set of skills to overcome the exclusion and isolation they live in. She is accomplishing this through her pioneering model for a community education center, Alwan wa Awtar or A&A (Arabic for Crayons and Strings), which offers kids knowledge, exposure and development. The center employs a comprehensive module that uses experiential learning and non-formal education to enhance children’s self development and learning within a participatory and empowering pedagogical framework. Further, Azza presents all activities under the banner of art. By building children's confidence, broadening their knowledge and sharpening their skills, Azza unlocks their potential and teaches them that they are full members of society. She equips them with the same tools that kids of more elite social classes have access to, thereby giving underprivileged youth the opportunity to carve their own niche in the labor market and ascend socially, culturally and economically. Azza’s center is located in El-Hadaba El-Wusta – Moqattam, an underserved area in Cairo. There, she started a pilot program and is currently replicating her model by transferring knowledge and providing on-the-job training for citizen organization (CO) staff. She is also documenting A&A experiences to create a manual and tool-kit that can be used by other organizations wishing to replicate her comprehensive social development strategy, as well as training public school teachers interested in using her techniques in their classes.