An Art in Recycling Project – A Community & Environmental Development Scheme

Handmade paper industry from rice straw

During this past year, Mohamed Abou El Naga, an award wining Egyptian artist, has started his project of paper making, creating job opportunities for youth through empowering them with the skills and tools required to produce creative good quality hand-made paper.
Abou El Naga is working individually as an artist together with a team of committed people in order to realize the aim of the project: to establish a recycling and design workshop where alternative functional and creative uses of agricultural refuse are generated by the trained youth (girls and boys) thus addressing the soaring unemployment rate. Abou El Naga’s idea was to name the project “El Nafeza” or the window to mean creating opportunity, generate hope and a gateway to arts and culture.
Mohamed's work has great economic potential for Egypt. Handmade paper has become one of the major rural village industries in India, generating employment and requiring little capital in rural villages. The last decade witnessed rapid growth in export as a number of handmade paper and paper products manufacturing units have become one hundred percent export-oriented units and contributed to increasing the foreign exchange of the country.
Mohamed is linking the idea of income generation with environmental protection. New jobs will be generated that are dependent on the use of agricultural refuse, with its long-term positive effect on the environment. Farming communities will learn to make paper from available resources, thus creating jobs, generating income, and promoting awareness about the importance of preserving the environment
Finding out about the environment's productive and income-generating uses, farming communities will have an interest in preserving their environment. Mohamed is targeting mainly farming communities and schools in these areas and sees drop-out, unskilled, and unemployed women and men as untapped assets that can be empowered with the skills to make paper out of agricultural refuse, thus providing them with jobs that will allow them to bring income to their families and positively contribute to the development of their communities.
Since women represent a significantly greater percentage of those unemployed in rural areas, Mohamed believes that they can be catalysts in transforming farming communities all over Egypt.
Currently the project is in its third phase, meaning a number of young men and women (15 all in all: 12 girls and 3 men) has had the experience, knowledge and expertise of hand-made paper production, and have produced an assortment of good quality papers (greeting cards, attractive writing papers, etc). Some of those papers have been sold and marketed in well renown stores.
The project has proved successful, so far, and has answered to its planned contribution in addressing the challenges related to the long lost Artisanship, Unemployment, and Environment pollution. Meanwhile, the project seeks to promote its current production innovatively and produce new designs that could be produced and used in a myriad of art and creative design purposes (interior decoration designs of lamp shades, and other). He wants to seize the opportunity offered by the growing market for handmade-paper products abroad, and to gain an international reputation for handmade paper, like it's age-old reputation for papyrus-making.
In addition, Abou El Naga’s plan is to further strengthen the knowledge and skills of those young men and women as well as others in the year to come and assist them to develop their own workshops eventually. That will hopefully multiply in the future through his assistance to establish similar projects in the different governorates through the local community organizations. Mohamed's center’s idea is the first such initiative in the Arab world and could be an inspiration for similar collaborations between artists and community development workers.
The project seeks consultative advise and support from the Development Support Center in many aspects. Those include: editing of proposals, assisting in fundraising, technical advice, strengthening the skills of support staff, and most importantly thinking, planning and foreseeing the project’s role.

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There are 3 Comments

smartstab says:

Creative idea

Ahmed says:

Creative idea

FennO says:

Great work