Hello NDItech fans!
My name is Alia Mokbel and I am from lovely Cairo, Egypt. I have the good fortune to be placed at NDI during my three-week fellowship program, which is organized by Legacy International and sponsored by the State Department. The program brings emerging NGO leaders from around the world to the United States to share best practices and develop skills for advancing civil society.
I am passionate about improving Egyptian society through engaging technology in development interventions. I believe that change starts with a small idea that becomes passion, which then grows into a well-organized team of people seeking to change their communities, while at the same changing as people and enhancing their leadership skills. You can see such a process played out in this video.
The best thing about working at an NGO is that you get to really know your country. It was only after I have worked at mine, Etijah, that I became aware of the fact that ambitious youth are not centralized in Cairo. On the contrary, ambitious youth are really clustered in southern Egypt, in really marginalized areas with very few opportunities for school or work, away from media attention, and with much fewer community resources. Yet, they are so active and passionate to develop their local communities and to lead that change, so giving more access to those youth for developing and changing their communities would be an essential milestone in the development process.
Getting engaged in projects on different topics of interest enhances one’s skills in project planning, leading conversations, building a wider network of human relations, volunteer management, and gives a detailed focus on results to be achieved. While doing this, one senses the real needs of the target group and the best tools and techniques to respond to those needs, which, in my case, came to be technology. Egypt’s civil society needs technological tools to engage citizens and to participate in the development of the country, regardless of the topic, to work on empowerment of women, youth employability, volunteer recruitment and retention, or many other topics.
I am currently working on the “Youth Citizenship Ambassadors Group” Project, in collaboration with UN Women, which builds the capacity of young volunteers to design and implement community initiatives for raising awareness among women and girls about the importance of issuing national identification cards. This matches with the goals of NDI which is focused on building democracy and fostering citizen participation and gender equality.
NDI is multicultural, interdisciplinary, and highly collaborative. Such an environment would help any NGO professional in their work,. The organization is large, comprising around 300 employees, and is already teaching me how to organize and execute plans, delegate tasks, systemize workflows, and manage time more effectively. Through my work here, I’m already developing the skills needed to network with people of diverse cultures and backgrounds and with people in different capacities, from local NGO leaders to top officials working at the international level.
During my fellowship at NDI, I am eager to learn about different channels of engagement between technology and development generally and democracy in particular. I’m especially interested to wisely use resources and capacities towards achieving equality, social justice, and freedom, as well as identify ambitious youths driven by the same principles.