I have come to really enjoy the rituals that I have developed working here. To say the very least, working with poor artisans in Egypt is the polar opposite environment from working in corporate America. Day-to-day interactions include lots of tea, no emails, no credit cards and the satisfaction of being surrounded by people who work with their hands and produce beautiful items. Don’t get me wrong, people in Egypt with more corporate jobs might as well be in NYC, LA, DC or London.
When I arrived in Egypt I had a plan to retain traditional craftsmanship through the empowering development of microfinance. I was in love with microfinance. I loved that it was not a handout, that it was partnering with poor people to launch their own initiatives and that it seemed so empowering and dignifying. So I had this vision that I was going to use microfinance, but I wasn’t sure which artisan skill I was going to focus on (initially I was leaning towards much of the beautiful mother of pearl work and copper work that is done in Egypt…)
For many years I had this dream that I would be working to retain traditional craftsmanship among poor artisans in Egypt. I decided to make a leap and see if I as one individual could make a difference in the country where I was born, Egypt. I created a nonprofit, Ayadi (which means many hands in Arabic) and am now in Cairo trying to retain traditional craftsmanship in Cairo.