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Books as curfew companions

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Use the curfew hours to read and meet other bookworms

Salma El Noshokaty, Valentina Primo and Karine Kamel (Photo from BridgEgypt Facebook page)

Salma El Noshokaty, Valentina Primo and Karine Kamel
(Photo from BridgEgypt Facebook page)

The curfew has been the main topic of conversation and concern ever since it was applied in August. From this week the curfew hours have been shortened, but there is no indication yet as to when it will be abolished. Even though at first all one would hear were complaints about how disruptive it is, now people have adopted and accepted it as part of their lives. Some even grew to love it.

For bookish types, it seems this is the perfect time to read. “We decided to create the Curfew Library because we believe that crises are also opportunities. So when conflict broke out in Cairo last August and curfew was imposed on the country, we took a step back to think about opportunities for positive social action,” said Valentina Primo, communications and social media manager at BridgEgypt. Book swapping and donation is the main idea of the Curfew Library.

“BridgEgypt is a CSR and Communications Consultancy that aims to bridge the gap between the corporate sector and the development world. In other words, we link companies and NGOs. Our motto is to have a positive social impact in everything we do, and this is why we create our own non-profit social initiatives, such as the Curfew Library,” Primo explained.

The concept of the campaign is to use the power of the people. “We hope to create the largest crowd-sourced library in Egypt, and donate it to NGOs working with less fortunate youth,” said Primo. “We have chosen Education for Employment Foundation (EFE) as one of the campaign beneficiaries, but we’re looking to collaborate with as many NGOs [as possible] to reach to a maximum number of youngsters.”

They also hope that the events, which take place all over town, will encourage people to read more. During the first event they were able to gather 150 books in both English and Arabic.

In addition to Primo, two others are responsible for the creation of the project: “Karine Kamel –BridgEgypt’s Managing Director- handles overall implementation and Salma El-Noshokaty handles linkages with NGOs.”

Primo was adamant on making it clear that the Curfew Library is not just a bunch of events, but a campaign that extends beyond them. “People can swap their old books with new ones at BridgEgypt’s office in Zamalek, or during the events that we regularly organise. We are also expanding to other areas in Cairo through different drop-off points for people to go whenever they need to, such as Maadi and Nasr City,” Primo explained.

However, Primo said the events have proven.

“We organise them regularly as networking opportunities to our ever growing Curfew Library community. Anyone can come and have a cup of coffee while skimming through the options to swap. We also have a fun corner where people can write their favorite quotes, or interact with other swappers and take photos while reading.”

The only entrance fee is in the form of a book for swapping. However, people can bring more than one and donate the rest. “We will continue to organise regular events to spread awareness, gather more books, and increase the number of swappers,” Primo said.

They are currently looking for more collaborators and funding opportunities to be able to expand the project even further. “We are planning to launch chapters in Alexandria and the Red Sea soon, and we also want to bring the library to cyberspace with an online platform that will include e-books and facilitate swapping,” Primo explained.

More information can be found on BridgEgypt Facebook page.


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