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French spring
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 18 - 04 - 2019

Last week Le Printemps des Artists (PDA), a three-day charity exhibition, took place at Darb 1718 under the auspices of the European Union, with support from a number of local and international organisations in Egypt.
This is the third round of Le Printemps des Artists, a voluntary venture by Claire Accueil, part of the Association for French the Community in Egypt. It aims to raise support for Samusocial International Egypt, a French NGO advancing the rights of the severely excluded and improving their access to quality services. Through its office in Egypt, Samusocial International has been supporting children and youth in the streets in different parts of Cairo since 2008.
“We believe that there is so much that can be done in Egypt, and we want to help,” says Melanie Guyon, one of the members of the Caire Accueil. “Le Printemps des Artists is one of the most important projects run by our association. We have been working with Egyptian artists since September. And they were very helpful and friendly.”
The three-day exhibition showcased work by distinguished Egyptian mid-career and young artists.
“It is very exciting to discover more about art in Cairo. As a foreigner, it makes me happy to try to support street children. It is a small thing, but yes, it makes sense to participate and help rehabilitate street children,” says Guyon.
The idea was first sparked by a Frenchwoman who used to live in Istanbul, where such charity exhibitions were held by the French community. The opening, which took place on Thursday 11 April, found the three-floor exhibition area bustling with viewers, with the French community elegantly represented and an entirely new scene where the Mediterranean spirit soared.
Sayed Waked's glass sculptures were were remarkable. The bigger one, 30cm by 110cm by 50cm, features transparent human figures standing side by side in a posture of solidarity. The smaller one features two figures sitting together, compassionately have a silent conversation. One painting by the brilliant Cairo-based Sudanese artist Moataz Elimam, features a dinning table for one person desperately expecting another — another gesture towards the human need for communication. Colourful and cheerful paintings by young artist Israa Zidan feature happy women in different postures, and romantic couples on a swing.
On the second floor, paintings by Randa Ismail, a mid-career artist, feature Nubian life and landscape in a warm nostalgic spirit. Banu Diker, a Cairo-based Turkish woman photographer, shows photos of life in Cairo, with Old Cairo and Cairo nightlife being particular favourites.
Participating artist have committed themselves to repay 30 per cent of the prospected sale to the cause. Thereby, Samusocial Egypt, one of 14 offices around the world, is committed to upgrade its medical, social and legal support for tens of thousands of street children through its night work mobile teams.
“Our aim is to reintegrate children socially, either to bring them back to their families or transfer them to shelters,” says Geraldine Tawfik, a representative of Samusocial Egypt. “This year, we are planning to introduce contemporary dance, mime and other artistic activities to street children in shelters. We are planning a performance by street children next September, and hoping to hold it at Al-Hanger Theatre.”

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