Coady International Institute diploma in development leadership 2017 participant Andrew Gawargy was always told a career working with people would be exciting and rewarding.
He followed that advice and is now a Key of Life Association area manager in his home country of Egypt.
On his Coady website bio page, Gawargy talks about the association and gives a brief description of his role.
“Key of Life Association works to create more inclusive and just communities by supporting the creation and operation of vibrant community institutions,” Gawargy’s words for the bio read.
“We do this by offering five different programs and working with people to enable them to improve their situation, with full respect for dignity and rights.
“As area manager, I am responsible for assisting the NGO board and administration in developing an annual plan and budget, managing the day-to-day operations and identifying new opportunities in my area. I manage the organization’s resources to achieve community development goals.”
In talking to the Casket Nov. 3, Gawargy said his educational background is in social work and noted he wanted to take his learning into the “real world.”
“I had the invitation from the Key of Life Association to make one-year volunteer [commitment],” he said. “To discover more of what the meaning is to work with people; what is the value? Every time, in my education, they would talk about it being the most ‘exciting’ thing, to work with people … but what is the meaning of that?
“This is the opportunity I had to implement the concept of working with people and to discover how I can make a change in the world. Not just in your bank account, your position, in your house … the most significant change is for people.”
Gawargy’s volunteer position evolved into his current job and he talked about the satisfaction he gets from working with youth, especially in light of the revolutions which engulfed his home country earlier this decade.
“Youth played a big role in this revolution; they were the leaders,” he said.
“So we launched a project about how to get youth involved; how youth [could] use social accountability tools to achieve good governance in local societies and communities. How they can develop together, as service providers, the public services.
“It was a nice experience because it was a learning process for us as institutions and organizations and, also, for youth who implemented this; using social accountability tools to work, in legit ways, with the government … trying to help them to improve the local services.”
Gawargy said he became familiar with the Coady from its Transparency and Accountability for Good Governance program, which came to his country.
“I engaged with this project, participated in this project, and I found, with Coady, a way for knowing, a way for teaching, for training,” he said, noting it was methods he, very much, appreciated.
“They use your context, your background, [don’t] teach from something outside, but something you can relate to your context,” he said. “It amazed me in Egypt and motivated me to ask for the diploma program.
“And now it’s a turning point in my experience; especially using different methodologies and ways of learning in my context. Not just learning methods and techniques, but to take me back to learning from my community again; what are the opportunities in this place [his community]?”
Gawargy described his time in the diploma program, which will conclude early next month, as both “spiritual” and “inspirational,” while praising his fellow participants.
“They live your situation but through different eyes, in a different context,” he said. “They face the same challenges and opportunities, so it’s about how we can look together for [solutions].”
As for his impressions of Antigonish, Gawargy talked about being struck by the unity he sees at events, such as the Art Fairs which took place in Chisholm Park during the summer.
“Just people being together and coming together for charity,” he said. “The feeling of this unity has inspired me very much.
“And people asking us to engage with them through many events, at their homes, community halls; they care about life – common life. Not just my small family but focus on community; it reflects the Antigonish Movement. Maybe [they are] not all aware, but it’s their life; a charity of life, a sharing of life.” he added.