It’s seven in the morning and parents are rushing with their children to the Early Childhood Development (ECD) voluntary center in Kom Ombo in the Aswan governorate in Egypt.
Children are welcomed at the center by 29-year-old Abdelrahman Taha. When the children have arrived Abdelrahman leads the daily morning exercise, organizes educational games as well as supervises the children. Moreover, Abdelrahman carries out administrative work such as keeping track of attendance and health records of the enrolled children. “Every two weeks, my colleague and I organize seminars to the parents covering topics such as different stages of childhood and how to communicate with children at each,” adds Abdelrahman.
“Crying children calm down when I talk to them, because they feel safe.”Abdelrahman Taha
The ECD voluntary center in Kom Ombo is one of the very first centers to be established in Aswan. It is a pilot model funded by the H&M Foundation and designed by UNICEF in partnership with the Ministry of Youth, the Central association for KG Supervisors League and the Ministry of Social Solidarity. The centers target children aged between two and four years old and the initial target is to establish 25 centers in three governorates: Cairo, Alexandria and Aswan.
Abdelrahman’s role extends also beyond the walls of the center. Sometimes, he goes to pick up children whose parents are not able to bring them to the center because of their work demands. He also conducts home visits to parents of the enrolled children for personal consultation by listening to their concerns and providing advice.
“Crying children calm down when I talk to them, because they feel safe” says Abdelrahman who believes that the primary role of the man is to provide a sense of security to the child, thus it is important to exist as a male figure in the ECD voluntary center.
“The volunteering experience has personally taught me how to communicate and understand a child and qualified me to raise my future children.”Abdelrahman Taha
Among the children enrolled in the center is Abdallah who recently lost his father. “We decided to enroll Abdallah to the center right after his father’s death” says Abdalla’s uncle Mohamed Soliman. “We are grateful to Abdelrahman who understood the needs of Abdallah after being deprived of his father. It is important for Abdallah’s psychological wellbeing to get engaged with other children and to see a man playing a role in the center.”
“The volunteering experience has personally taught me how to communicate and understand a child and qualified me to raise my future children” says Abdelrahman who previously studied and worked in the field of social work and human resources. Through volunteering in the center, he believes he gained practical experience focused on dealing with children in early childhood stage. “My career goal is to focus on early childhood development either in schools or NGOs” explains Abdelrahman.