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Abu Shrouf’s Center for Traditional Handicrafts

This is a story that revolves around a girl called Asmaa Mohamed Youssif who lives in Abu Shrouf village; 30 kilometers away from Siwa. This village is very small and poor. Around 850 people live there. Most children especially girls, from the age of 16, are prevented from going to schools as vocational, commercial and general high schools are located in Siwa and traditions prohibits girls from going to places outside the village. In the morning, Abu Shrouf's people are isolated from the outside world; they don't watch T.V or listen to radios, not because they are working, but because electricity only works at night.

Surrounded by these unfortunate circumstances, Asmaa strived towards changing her future. Despite the fact that she grew up in a large family (24 members) that is very strict towards traditions, she insisted on completing her education in Siwa. In the beginning, her parents were against that but the strength of her deliberation eventually made them give in. In Siwa, she joined the commercial high school. She used to travel around 60 kilometers every day until she graduated and had her diploma. But that was not enough to satisfy her ambition, she wanted to gain more skills and knowledge, so, she took computer classes at Siwa Association for Community Development and Environmental Protection. There she learnt everything about computers and was offered a job as illiteracy eradication teacher to educate others in her village. By this, she was able to meet her needs as well as that of her family.

However, she looked at her job not as source of money but as a way to better women's status. In her attempt to do so, she raised women's awareness on the importance of education. As a result, large number of the village female inhabitants joined the illiteracy eradication classes. After teaching many classes, she found that teaching women how to read and write is not enough if there are no employment opportunities available for them. After thorough thinking, she came up with ideas on how to empower those women and enrich her poor village; one of these ideas was to establish a center for traditional handicrafts. She communicated this idea to her managers who adapted her initiative and helped seek funds for such center. Right now, most women in her village work at this center, and consequently, the village became richer.