The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme decided to take a more musical approach to volunteerism in Egypt. As part of the 10th Anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers campaign, UNV in Egypt launched the song Meen Fena, or “which one of us.” Staying close to its roots, all efforts for planning and executing the campaign were voluntary. “The work was done on a purely voluntary basis in an attempt to promote volunteerism, positive thinking and civic engagement in Egyptian society,” said Noha Tarek of UNV.
Heba Nosseir, the brains behind the campaign, recalls the beginning of the campaign in 2011. They wanted to put their words into action: “this year was dedicated to promote volunteerism and civic engagement, and we thought that the best was to do that, is via implementing all our year activities on a voluntary basis,” and that is what they did.
The song is a huge voluntary collaboration: “singers volunteered their voices, musicians their music, the lyricist his writing skills and several institutions offered their technical resources.”
One goal of the campaign, beyond encouraging people to volunteer, is to volunteer efficiently. Nosseir explained the campaign looks to promote “skills-based volunteerism, which means that volunteering should be performed according to one’s skill and competence”. The idea is to make the most use of volunteers’ skills. “When you volunteer in what you excel in, the results will be efficient and remarkable,” said Nosseir.
This leads to another goal of the campaign that intends to “emphasise that not only paid products are of good quality, but that unpaid volunteering activities also lead to a good quality of work.”
Thirdly, the campaign encourages people to “pay it back”. Nosseir found that the best way to achieve that is through using role models: “the approach here was to communicate this idea through presenting examples that people know and follow, like the singers.”
Hany Bedair, the song’s producer, was brought in to handle the planning and execution of the song. “He [Bedair] was the one who coordinated most of the effort, like choosing and contacting the singers, musicians, etc,” said Nosseir.
The song itself shares the same messages that Nosseir explained. It stresses the importance of community and the need to communicate with other people. The song also stresses on selflessness and being generous with time and effort.
Misanthropes aside, it seems that most people find the song to be inspirational. Although it might appear naively optimistic at first, realising the effort that went into the making the song, it is easier to appreciate it. The song also emphasises the effort of the individual, encouraging people to do whatever small effort they can.
Right now the song is being shared through social media sites, but Nosseir hopes it will be played on television soon so it can reach more people.