Al Shehab Institution for Comprehensive Development

Social Justice and freedom

Monday 2 May 2011 by Al Shehab institution for Comprehensive Development

Social justice and freedom are the practical basis for the development of any society and are considered as cornerstone demands for all forces and movements that struggle for progress and freedom throughout the human history.

Freedom with all the rights attributed such as right to expression, association, mobility etc… for all the classes and the different groups of the society such as farmers, workers as well as most marginalized groups from one side, and the effective existence of mechanisms, institutions and laws to protect those rights from the other side, both in our point of view, represent the main pillars that any society respects human rights as mean for development relies upon.

If respecting human rights is a manifestation of freedom and democracy in a political sense, yet, if it is not associated with achieving the greatest economic and social justice among the people, it is imperfect freedom. We cannot build a house on a single column or walk with one foot without the other.

Having a quick look on the revolution of January 25 is not enough to emphasize on this sense they were not a revolution for democracy and political sense only, but the public nature of the participant, and where the majority was of the young people expressing the frustration of millions of them from the conditions of Egypt before the revolution where millions are unemployed with no hope for change.

The Egyptian revolution that lifted in its first day a slogan saying (We need to work Mr. president) and all that it carries of a desire to find jobs and a decent life which shows the level of awareness of the rebels and the failure of the system to achieve this dream as this system was based on its rule on the repression and political despotism in return for giving fragments of the health and education services and employment for the majority of the people. But that in recent years and because of the policies of corruption and application blind orders of international institutions in the privatization of state enterprises and sold cheaply for kickbacks to the regime eventually led to the collapse of almost complete for all state institutions and industrial health and education, there is no work, no health, no education, inability of the system for providing crumbs and remained with injustice and tyranny as the only tool for the continuation of this system until the revolution was dropped in the January 25 on February 11, 2011.

The January 25th revolution had proved that the change comes from bottom to top and not vice versa This theory guided our work when we started to establish Al-Shehab about 10 years ago that was created as non-profit organization and selected Ezbet El Haggana to work. Al Haggana known as one of the largest slums in Egypt, where about a million individuals living there, It was our start point to the world of slums which represents a population of about 20% of the population of Egypt (16 million) suffer from multiplied discrimination compared to the total of suffering of the Egyptian people.

In Ezbet El Haggana, There is no hospital, no preparatory or secondary school, no electricity, no clean water or sanitation, add to this exposure of slum dwellers to persecution by the police as the poorest and most vulnerable in society.

A man is a son of his or her environment, that is why the slum environment is fertile for the production of unemployment, chronic disease, child labor, domestic violence and the spread of religious movements extremist. We did not hear about the sectarian strife in the neighborhood of Al-Hussein or neighborhood Al Sayeda, but in (Manshiet Nasser and Al Zawia Hamra, Ain Shams). At the beginning of our work we suffered from threats because of our work on defending the most vulnerable groups within the slums, such as women, children and refugees.

However, we did not walk away or limit our work to office work, but we continue to work with the people of the community, based on the knowledge and confidence in human beings and their potential. So we conducted a comprehensive study on the problems and needs of the area, that resulted in the lack of the whole all the services and high unemployment compared to official areas, we decided to work as an association of community work on community empowerment and raising consciousness through the combination of service and human rights and not to solve the problem of slums in Egypt, because the solution lies In political will, but only to give an alternative model for dealing with the problems of slums, we were one of the first associations that have formed committees of local community (the committees on Health - Education - Environment and cleaner) negotiation and pressure and suggests that the officials of alternatives to improve the conditions of their lives.

Because our work focuses on social justice as a fundamental human right called for by all international laws and conventions, therefore, our interventions work toward promoting those rights through the implementation of a number of projects such as the right to health, the right to adequate housing, the right to education, the right to clean water, the right in the presence of employment opportunities, and we proposed a model in practical application of those rights, we have succeeded in many of them and we failed in some in fact, we were not alone in this work, but there were individuals. Groups from outside the community provides us with the knowledge and financial expertise in many of these projects.

The question now how do we as institutions of civil society have contributed to the current change to contribute to the future expressed by the revolution in the January 25 of justice and freedom. The answer from our point of view is the link between economic, social and political dimensions benefiting of the experiences of other countries in this area (such as Brazil, China, Canada) That the free man who eats the man who commits suicide and the man who s and does not have freedom becomes an animal.

By Yasser Shukry

Al- Shehab Institution For Comprehensive Development

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