About the Author:Maria Otero serves as Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs.
Last week in Cairo, I visited the Friends of Environment and Development Association (FEDA), an Egyptian non-governmental organization (NGO) that works towards alleviating poverty, improving living conditions and protecting cultural heritage. Walking through the streets of Old Cairo in the historic area of Gamalia, we arrived at FEDA. The Association's Chairman, Dr. Adli Bishay, gave us a tour of the complex's halls and classrooms -- stunning examples of classic Islamic architecture. Beyond the traditional stone arches and lush courtyards, a health clinic and computer skills centers offer modern services to community members. FEDA is also using the newest technology to grant access to some of the oldest artifacts in the world. Partnering with an organization called Cult Net, FEDA will host interactive stations where visitors can access digitized resources of Egypt's monuments and antiquities.
FEDA also offers workshops empowering members of the local community with trade skills and education. I met with women in weaving workshops who are becoming equipped to participate in a fair trade network, and youth engaged in learning about science, the environment, and community involvement. Such outreach and empowerment demonstrates FEDA's commitment to making a truly sustainable impact. It was a privilege to visit an organization that is helping to keep history alive, while at the same time empowering the local community in new and innovative ways.
The U.S. Embassy in Cairo funds FEDA's youth outreach and economic sustainability efforts. Organizations like this one play a vital role in social development by lifting some of the burden from government in improving people's lives. Seeing FEDA's success made me proud that the United States is supporting civil society in Egypt and around the world.
This week on April 22, the world will celebrate Earth Day. FEDA will host a large event to celebrate Earth Day and raise environmental awareness on April 26, which will host panel discussions on energy resources, water sources, rising sea levels and agricultural production. What are your plans for Earth Day? How can we get our communities excited about incorporating earth-friendly activities into our daily lives?
Under Secretary Otero traveled to Egypt April 15 - 17 to meet with government ministries and civil society on water, democracy, human rights, refugee, and trafficking in persons issues. Egypt was the first stop on a three-nation tour focused on water resource issues in the region.