By Fatma Ibrahim
El Warsha is one of the few non-governmental charity organisations that use different forms of art to make a positive contribution to the Egyptian society. Dr Ehab El-Toukhy, a professor of sculpture at the college of fine arts, had a vision to use his love and passion for art along with other professors and fine art students as a charitable service to society. While El Warsha officially registered in Egypt as an NGO in 2008, El-Toukhy said the organisation has been working since 2000.
“The aim of the organisation is to restore aesthetic values and encourage positive behaviour through art,” said El-Toukhy. “We continue to use art as a means of communication to spread public awareness and to preserve the Egyptian identity and cultural heritage.” In their work El Warsha incorporates art in the process of elevating people’s general appreciation of aesthetics and beauty, and in contributing to resolve society’s problems.
El Warsha organises a variety of activities for both the young and old, including workshops for media and visual arts, movie screenings, art exhibitions, seminars, and designing handcrafted artwork.
“Since 2008, El Warsha has carried out various ongoing projects like ‘El Hara’ (The Alley), where we apply artistic enhancements, like painting the exteriors of houses, in the poor areas in various governorates,” El-Toukhy said.
“Letarda” is another project that focuses on youngsters from 6 to 12 years of age in orphanages and underprivileged districts. The project aims to enhance their skills and talents, as well as encourage positive behaviour by using creative methods and various programmes that are designed to enhance and solidify their ethical codes. “The project was developed to build a young generation that is talented, ethical, creative, visionary and ambitious. We try to prepare them so that they can deal with society,” El-Toukhy said.
Letarda is carried out by “giving the team training in human development and psychology as well as designing special curriculums under the supervision of specialised artists, psychotherapists and sociologists. We usually spend one year with the children, and we let them practice what was taught in various artworks, like painting, making wood or paper models or sculpture, to express what they have learned.”
El Warsha held an exhibition, Helm el 17 (The Dream of the 17), on 18 May at the Zoor Khana display hall of the organisation’s headquarters in Zamalek. The exhibition is part of the Letarda project and showcases the artwork of 17 children from an orphanage in Shubra.
Marwa El-Demerdash, the public relations specialist of the event, showed us around the gallery, explaining the various works made by the children. “They have drawn their paintings around themes, for example here is one about the 1973 war, and another about pilgrimage to Mecca and Eid Al-Adha.”
They also made greeting cards and created cardboard models with their pictures on them. “Many of the paintings are already reserved and the revenue of everything that is sold will be completely dedicated to the children’s interest,” El-Demerdash said. The youngsters also performed a 12-minute play, in which they acted and used puppets. The play’s theme was “helping others”.