RAGFP Peacebuilder Club Supports Egyptian Youths

Friendliness and neighborliness are natural and will thrive if given a chance. To waste one’s opportunities to cultivate neighborliness and friendship is more foolish than to cast diamonds into the sea. Are you heavy-laden with cares of the day? A neighborly call at eventide will drive dull care away and start you out anew. ” – Paul Harris

In Egypt’s highly traditional culture, marriage is considered the “gateway” to adulthood. Yet, the average young man in Egypt must save about 3-years of income and the average bride about 6-months of income before a couple can be married. Wedding ceremonies and related costs can run up to 15 times the annual household income. While the financial cost makes weddings difficult to afford, remaining unmarried holds a social cost.

Some scholars in Egypt have called this situation a state of chronic “waithood,” where young people remain in a flux of “extended adolescence” far into their twenties. As unmarrieds, they are not fully adults in traditional Egyptian society, and as millennials, they are not still children. Moreover, for young women, the stigma of being unmarried past a certain age poses even more problems and discontentment for them.

According to NBC news reports, “the marriage crisis” is creating mounting pressures upon young people that could lead to the next great outburst of mass protests in Egypt. “Everyone is struggling right now, it’s hard to find a man my family will say has enough money, 24-year-old Salma Hamdeen told NBC News. “But I want to marry soon, I want to be a woman… if you aren’t married by your late twenties, people will think there is something wrong with you.”

The Rotary Club of Alexandria-Marine is a RAGFP Peacebuilder Club, and recognized an opportunity for Rotarian peace through service. They reached out to their neighbors in one of Egypt’s most ancient and glorious cities.

Allocating and raising funds as a peace project, these Rotarians partnered with the Egyptian Association of Entrepreneurship for Development and other organizations in Alexandria to sponsor yearly weddings for up to 50 brides and grooms. Brides are provided beautiful wedding gowns and the festivities are held in posh settings in the region. Last year’s wedding event was held at Alexandria’s Arcadia Hall, one of the most luxurious wedding locations in Egypt.

The occasion surrounds these couples with family and friends, and also many Rotarians including the District Governor of Rotary District 2451 each year. Dignitaries from the Egyptian government also attend the event. The Governor of Alexandria, Major General Reza Farhat, greeted happy couples in 2017. The newlyweds receive red-carpet welcomes into their new lives and are embraced by Egyptian society with great hospitality.

Of course, the most important guests in attendance are the brides and grooms themselves, who enjoy a dream wedding ceremony sponsored by Rotarian peacebuilders. Newlyweds dance and celebrate like princesses and princes in luxurious settings because Rotarians view these couples in such light.

The Rotary Alexandria-Marine Wedding Festival Peace Project doesn’t end in the ceremonial ballroom.

The history of wedding gifts vary from culture-to-culture, and in ancient Egypt, the groom’s family paid the “dowery.” This was often in the form of precious stones or gold. Modern societies are more practical. Every newly married couple needs basic necessities, such as refrigerators, curtains to cover windows, and bedding materials. These are simple but practical needs that every person understands.

Rotarian peacebuilders in this club realized that providing a grand wedding ceremony is only the first step in supporting the young newlyweds in their marriage. The project not only hosts a wonderful wedding event for them, it but also supplies the couples with household necessities for their homes. The couples are provided carpets, interior curtains, 6 luxury bed sheets, and 2 quilts, along with a myriad of appliances.

Couples with special needs and those who come from orphaned families are also given home furnishings. In essence, this peace project creates a sense of family for many newlywed couples in Alexandria and unites their entire region.

Rotarians in this RAGFP Peacebuilder Club fill the gap for many young couples, just starting out, who need the love and support of their community. The Rotary Club of Alexandria-Marine allocates and raises funds for these young couples as a peace project. The event now draws Rotarian leaders and high ranking Egyptian government officials who recognize that strong community bonds are essential to peace.

These great Rotarians offer a prime example of how peacebuilders can implement culturally sensitive projects to build stronger communities across the world.