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Cardboard Buildings and Flying Cars: Cairo’s Mini-Medinas Shape the Future Citizens of A New Egypt

Far below the line where minarets meet the sky, there is a mini-city where walking guitars roam the nights. Its’ buildings are rounded, encircled by rapid flying cars. Downtown, there is a hospital where patients are treated for free, and a cardboard theater whose colors reflect the rainbow. This is the city Ahmed imagines.

This little architect is taking part of the Mini-Medina project, an exciting experiment that aims to give children of all backgrounds the chance to project the city of their dreams – and live it. The model helps develop citizenship and democracy values among children who are often raised in a context where making choices is not a part of everyday life.

“We do not give children a downsized model of the ‘real world’ to play in but rather provide them with a safe space in which to experiment and explore alternative ways: the real world may eventually learn from the children’s experiences!” says project representative Nairy Abd El Shafy.

300 Egyptian children have already created their own version of society, as 5 editions were held in Cairo, Abu Sir, and Alexandria. This month, the team started an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to build 6 new cities, an online platform, and an alternative education network in Egypt. And they dream bigger: they want to take 15 children to the biggest mini-city in Germany next summer.

For more information: Visit Mini-medina’s website, and follow their Facebook Page.


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Valentina Primo

Journalist, globetrotter, and determined idealist. Since Valentina left her home country of Argentina, she has searched for ways to build bridges between cultures and foster dialogue. Her previous work in international organizations in Italy and Germany fed her passion for the world of development, while her 8-year journalistic experience in Argentina and Egypt increased her curiosity for everything that challenges the stereotype. She holds a BA in Journalism and a Masters in Peace Studies with a specialization in Human Rights.

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