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Young people harmonize on population issues

“Your daughter is a treasure. Look after her and protect her,” echoed the lyrics of a song at one of the Population Awareness Clubs (PACs) operating in Youth Centers around the country.

The song, titled “Mother of girls,” is part of a UNFPA initiative dubbed Shamandora to employ music – as a form of edutainment – to mobilize young people, to contribute to changing social norms and raise awareness around different population issues, in partnership with the Ministry of Youth and Sports and Etijah Youth and Development Consultancy Institute.

The songs produced are used as part of the awareness program within the PACs, where the trained young volunteers invite a group of 10-15 community members to listen to their songs, and share the lyrics , followed by a discussion about the lyrics and the messages intended.

“We get their attention through the song and they start to get curious and engaged in the discussion and singing.” Abdul Rahman Reda, one of the PAC participants in the Minya governorate.

Sherif Khamis, another participant in the Beni Suef PAC, said he was inspired to hear attendees humming and singing the songs as they left the venue.

Soliciting the help of Zad Art group, the initiative aims to empower young people with different tools to develop their own songs to raise the awareness of their communities.

Mohamed Ali Hozein, Zad Art team leader, finds the experience unique. 

“Bringing young community members and helping them create their own music and songs is really empowering not only for those participants but for the community as well,” he says, “Music enriches their lives and deliver messages in a soft and peaceful way.”

In late 2019, the young participants improvised eight songs that address different issues that include child marriage and FGM in a music and singing camp, where they take part in several workshops.

The workshops not only tackle different population issues, but hone the participants’ musical skills and reinforce teamwork dynamics.

Nour Shehata, a young participant at the PAC in Minya, described the camp as a “space to unleash our creativity.”

“Through the experience here not only did I improve my writing skills, but we also learnt how to share and receive constructive feedback without perceiving it as a criticism … we share the same goal, we want to be a seed for a change,” she said.

Due to the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 outbreak, the workshops continued online and involved more young people from different governorates. The participants produced six more songs and a musical as a result of three online workshops organized during this time.

By the end of 2020, there will be 191 PACs operating in 21 governorates. The PACs host different awareness activities around population issues for young people using different tools that include: peer education, music, interactive theatre, sports and painting.

Listen to Shamandoura's songs below: