"When the world tells us we have to be small we have to remind ourselves that we can be giants together" - Nadia

This text was written on impulse by @gazbee sorour, who works with UNDP Egypt, after the Spot The Future workshop in Cairo of April 26th. It is so beautiful and sincere that we (Edgeryders) decided to feature it as a blog post. Thank you Gazbee!

Hey everyone!!!

So instead of preparing and thinking long and hard about what I’m about to write, I decided to just go for it and let the words flow by themselves.

For the workshop in Cairo, I honestly had no idea what to expect or what the outcomes would be. I remember Nadia saying she was purposefully vague about everything so as to let everyone decide for themselves which path the workshop will take. And this notion of ‘minds wide open’ is definitely what led to the success of the two days. 

The idea of just opening yourself to others didn’t seem like it could really be achieved in just two days, because it’s very hard to build trust. But it turns out that it’s not that you have to build trust first and then honesty follows, it’s actually the opposite…if you’re honest trust will be built quickly.

In Egypt, (and this is my personal opinion; which was also reflected by others at the workshop), skepticism and individualism are two barriers to collaboration. People tend to value their own work greatly, are generally skeptical of other people’s intentions and are afraid of losing grasp or control of what they’ve been trying to achieve. Therefore, collaboration is very rare, and if it happens it’s usually between people that already know each other very well, even though they may lack a lot of the needed resources, hence slowing the road to success. 

But, what I discovered or learned is that why waste time doing things by yourself that you may not be able to handle, and look for others that have the capacities, expertise and resources that you lack and you can feed off one another to build something amazing. If skepticism is removed from the equation, people will really work together well and if you put your ideas out there, the one’s that are trustworthy and truly care for the cause will show interest. So simply, by sharing your ideas without any limits you’ll attract the right people. Collective action is key, and that’s why I chose to quote Nadia in the title for this blogpost because ‘…we have to remind ourselves that we can be giants together’ perfectly sums up everything i’m trying to say. 

I think for me, that was the most important outcome from the workshop. To raise the idea of collaboration to truly have an impact on the society that you live in and care about. There should be no skepticism because at the end of the day it’s in the whole community’s best interest that we work together. I was also very surprised as to how all the talented and creative attendees were so open to changing their mindset, were honest, and are truly willing to work together.

It was mentioned more than once by different participants that they have forgotten how to communicate and that they’ve missed that feeling a lot and were happy to meet so many like-minded people. So as a follow up to the workshop, the first step would be communication. Don’t lose interest, don’t lose trust in yourself and others, and don’t wait. What we tend to do, is get so excited during an event, workshop or whatever and then completely forget about it. Trust in the fact that there are some people out there that really want to help, so stop wasting time and go for it. Everyone’s here on the platform for the same reason and intentions, so whatever is on your mind just put it out there and let the magic happen :slight_smile: Also, take a look at what other people are doing and you might find something you never knew you’d be interested in and YOU could be of help to them, and you really can create amazing things. Finally, accept criticism because at the end of the day it leads to real improvement and impact. 

Secondly, from an institutional perspective, I understand that a lot of people don’t want to work with institutions for their bureaucratic processes, top-down approach, and that they see little impact from implemented projects. But this is not necessarily the way things have to continue, and this is why we are taking part in this. We’re in a new era where citizens are realizing that monetary resources aren’t a necessity, there is no need to rely on big institutions and that we can just do/make things for ourselves with the support and resources of one another…and this is what leads to grassroot communities formulating such as on EdgeRyders. 

But the truth is that we really want to help and genuinely care, if we didn’t we wouldn’t be experimenting with this new methodology and wouldn’t be here trying to reach out to you. We want to keep up and we really want to be part of the big changes happening in our societies. We want to work more closely with citizens who have the solutions to their own problems, because we won’t always know the answer. So many people are coming up with really cool and effective solutions for our deepest challenges and frustrations, and we need to put our ‘minds’ together to see how we can support each other. Collaboration doesn’t have to happen at the personal or individual level, but between individuals and institutions. I am certain that we will have resources and capacities that would be of great benefit, and vice versa. Therefore, we have to put our heads together and really think about how we can help each other out. We have to build trust with one another and COMMUNICATE. We believe it’s important for us to reach out to different channels and to those we normally don’t work with so as to widen the possibilities for great things to happen; this is what we’ve been trying to do!

As UNDP, we are open to any suggestions or ideas of what you would like to see happen as the next step, so please feel free to share any thoughts. We already discussed the possibility of replicating these workshops in different governorates throughout Egypt to spread the culture and to see what other ideas people have. But that will be in parallel to seeing how we can move forward with the already-existing participants in STF and finding ways in which we can support each other. If you need any help, know that we want to help you. We are here to learn from you, and we hope that you can also learn something from us.

I think it was more of a conceptual and mental journey for all of us, where we were reminded of things we’ve forgotten and learned about new things that we might have not believed in before or even thought about. We were reminded to dream big, and those dreams can become reality of we collectively dream. We changed our perceptions and mind-set of working individually and being skeptical of others, we learned that there are genuine and like-minded people out there who share the same aspirations, we learned to open our minds and ourselves to one another and that sharing resources, capacities and experiences will lead to faster and greater results. This is just the beginning of our journey TOGETHER, and we are excited to see where we go next! Don’t let the conversation stop!!!

P.s. Thank you Nadia for being passionate about what you do; very inspiring! and thank you everyone for believing in change, and contributing with your hearts and souls. Finally, thanks to Ice Cairo, Ahmed and Hazem for all their efforts in making this happen…awesome job everyone!!!



Thank you @gazbee sorour for this post, I don’t think I can or need to add anything since you said it well. And kudos for managing to put both your personal and institutional hat on to get the message across. well received :slight_smile:


Wow, @gazbee sorour, you left me speechless – and that’s not easy.

I would love to publish this on the blog, just as it is. Would you agree? What do others think?


Thank you both, the experience really was an eye-opener

It may have taken a while to get the grasp of things, and it may have seemed complicated at first…but now, everything is so simple…and the message you’ve been trying to get across could not be any clearer!!! Keep doing what you’re doing guys.

and I’m glad you liked the post, sometimes it’s just easier not to over think and to speak your mind without boundaries :slight_smile: @Alberto please feel free to use it wherever you like, it’ll be my honor!

All the best,


1 Like

My kingdom for a photo!

Is there a nice picture of the IceCairo workshop I can use to beautify the post? @Ahmed M Rabie, @Hazem, @Nadia, @Muhammad Radwan, or anybody really? Also: @saidhamideh, as soon as I get a picture I am going to republish this on the blog. It is a beautiful post, and I think many people will be inspired by it. Can you cover me? :slight_smile:

@Alberto got it. just mention

@alberto got it. just mention me again when it’s ready.

its ready

ping @saidhamideh

Communication, honesty, trust, collaboration, common dreams

@gazbee sorour Thank you for your note. I am wondering how do you see the communication happening between individuals and institution?

I suggest that next time everybody work together on common dreams (individuals / groups and institution’s representative). In my team we came from different backgrounds and specializations. We managed to dream all together and fit our dreams in one community development project to change the culture of individualism. I am using the same methodology that came - up during the workshop, with the team of Noat Nour so that it becomes “our” initiative and not “my” initiative. I found the methodology in your workshop :slight_smile:

It’s not always because one want to have a grasp over what one is working on achieving, but it’s mostly to have control over deceptions. It’s also important that individuals communicate and build a team (…) It was a rich experience. Thank you all for making it happen in Cairo.


Hey @amiridina!

I’m glad you were able to come out with something concrete from the workshop and that it’s already affecting your initiative; so happy to hear that!

As for your question about communication between individuals and institutions; i think it’s a two way street - firstly, individuals need to stop looking at big organizations as an unlocked treasure chest, and institutions need to reach out to individuals for help. The ego needs to be put aside too…this general tendency to think that you have may know all the right solutions because you’re a big organization with capacities and also as an individual: insisting that no, i don’t need any help so i won’t ask anyone for it; especially from those institutions that won’t give me any money.

I think our involvement in STF is a step towards communication and we’re trying to learn this new methodology of bringing people together and engaging in conversation and encouraging collective action. Citizens ARE rising as the experts, they’re fixing their own problems for themselves and aren’t looking for institutional support. This is the time where institutions are realizing that maybe my top-down approach isn’t working - we don’t have all the answers to everything and we should be reaching within the grassroots to find out what interesting solutions do they have and support them.

I think there should be a consolidated platform where UNDP, or any institution if we’re generally speaking, can engage in direct dialogue with individuals who are working on change; Edgeryders could be a good place to start doing so. Moreover, individuals should be involved in the design process of projects and programmes because at the end of the day they’re implemented for the citizens.

We need to identify, together, the areas in which we could help each other and fill in the missing gaps. How do we fill in these gaps? could be something as big as implementing a project together to something as small as a piece of advice: so resources, expertise, capacities, networks - forget about the money and think about social capital.

Once Spot the Future is complete, we don’t want it to stop there. We want to find ways of scaling up the experience, reach out to others outside our channels, and continue the conversation; but in order for us to do so it has to be a collective effort. One other important thing is that trust is earned.

I was wondering, what are some suggestions do you have? What would YOU like to see happening and how can we move forward together?



Thanks for this post @Nadia. I completely agree with every word, it will definitely take time and it’s a gradual process, as you mentioned. The important thing is that we began our journey and we are already putting effort in using a more inclusive approach and to work with ‘smart citizens’.

And as I said before, there has to be some kind of exchange for all of us to be able to move forward in the right direction! :slight_smile:


This is really beautiful and important.



nice note ya @Gazbee! you have a knack for writing! I am going to wait and see whether UNDP can or will help on the matters related to carpooling in Egypt.

@Nadia … and we can stands on the shoulders of the giants!

P.S. why do i look like i just left the toilette seat? :wink:


Devil is in the details

Hi Hayk!

Nice to read you again. Id suggest that you maybe post your story in arrivals and describe in more detail what you are trying to achieve and how, as well as what obstacles you are coming across @2mavin? It makes it easier to understand how the rest of us could contribute and a personal introduction always makes it more engaging for others to want to get involved in initiatives. See Daniel’s story as a reference.


Hey @Nadia did you have a nice trip back to Europe?!

Yep, perhaps put together a story but it might take bit of time :slight_smile:

1 Like

No worries. Sometimes it is easier to do it as a conversation

You interview someone and write their story, they interview you and write yours. They can turn out quite beautiful like the one on Carlo . Here’s a few more. Perhaps this could be something we could organise over the next weeks with community members in one part of the world interviewing peers in other parts. And then we do collective efforts to push these stories out. Stories aimed at matchmaking, as you mentioned during the workshop. 

What do you think? Want to try one with someone else from the community?

thank yo Gazpia

@gazbee sorour , thank you for your post . May I ask you about the kind of projects that UNDP can participate in ?

1 Like

Ask for help!

Well said Gazbia! @gazbee sorour Reading your words and kind of analysing my current experience working in Reform Studio, I would say that the most important thing I’ve learnt was to ask for help. At sometimes we feel that showing that we don’t know something might be a sign of weakness, but it’s impossible to know it all! And at others we say to ourselves how can this person ever be of help to us, and we remain silent without engaging in a deeper conversation. During the last weeks I have met so many people whether individuals doing great things, or institutions trying to play a role in changing the status quo in Egypt. And it’s amazing to see how the majority just wants to help, whether to collaboratively work together, or just by giving advice, connecting you to someone else. You never know what’s going to come out of these conversations, but I was always left with a valuable piece of information or advice that can help us do things better at Reform Studio.

1 Like

This is what keeps us going!

Excellent! @gazbee sorour, insights like this is precisely what moves us forward! It’s all about rethinking collaboration and communication from the perspective of trust and ‘genuine care’ not only from the part of the civil society groups, but also international organisations like UNDP, and perhaps what you are describing is precisely the new way of doing business worth sharing and replicating? 


Start with what we have

Gazbia and Dina it is a gradual process of finding where one can support one another. In my experience you need a shared objective or vision based on a shared problem that everyone involved has a personal interest in seeing resolved…as well as a shared direction that everyone is genuinely excited about. We got into this a bit in the discussions that resulted in the fictional newspaper articles. Now the other part is really understanding one another’s work and practical obstcales that we come across and can try to resolve. Honestly if you ask me directly the details of what problems I come across in my work my mind goes blank. Its only when I start to share the HOWs of my work, tell the story that the issues become visible…And usually it requires a conversation. Me telling, and someone asking me questions to get my memory going.

SO the next step I would say is to get ourselves to share our stories of what we already are trying to do, and why we are making those choices. As well as find others who also care about the issues to share their stories of how they are working and why. And we ask one another alot of questions. Then you will see that the possibilities for collaboration will reveal themeselves. Relationships and working together takes time and a lot of trial and error. But if we do it this way we have a solid foundation, to build on…

You know when the will is there, and the clear direction things that otherwise seem impossible are solved because a lot of people chip in a small part to make it happen.