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" I think that what we're seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonance within our innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive."

- Joseph Campbell said in The Power of Myth

In August of 2003 a series of Coalition Building Sessions were held with NGOs and grass roots organizations as well as Doctors and other individuals working with the Refugee Community in Cairo, as well as refugees who receive services.  It was felt that since HIV/AIDS is hardly discussed in Egypt, the government lists only 860 reported cases, the Coalition could better focus on Violence Against Women and Girls. This danger is prevalent in the Egyptian Refugee Community as well as well as a plethora of other issues related to refugee status. The Cairo Intersect Coalition is comprised made up of individuals, medical professionals and organizations specializing in legal services, immigration issues, and violence against women and girls and other rights of women.

In 2004 the Coalition began to expand beyond the refugee community. In the intervening year there has been a rising awareness spreading throughout the country about the presence of HIV/AIDS. This has made it easier to approach NGOs and to involve the Women’s Movement and those dealing directly with HIV. The Task Team has been active and we are waiting for new and up to date information for you about the Cairo Intersect Coalition. (Click here for plans in formation)

January 2005 Meeting Minutes EGYPTIAN INTERSECT COALITION :

ATTENDANCE : Ashraf Milad, Tarek Mahrous, Mi Zhou, Aya El Hilaly, Ghassan Ahmed, Perveen Ali, Fatma Badran, Omaima Aboushady, Bothina Ahmed, Hala Abd El Kader, Magdy Syer, Afaf Marei

ARTICLES : The coalition will produce an article for English and Arabic newspapers as its first project. The purpose of the article will be to personalize the issue of HIV/AIDS and Violence Against Women and Girls by telling the stories of women who are living with HIV/AIDS.

Mi Zhou, Dina Al-Shafie, and Aya El Hilaly will identify potential interviewees, conduct interviews, and write a draft of the article in English and Arabic. Ghassan will review and edit the draft articles.  The articles will be forwarded to the members of the Coalition prior to the February meeting in order to give members time to review and read the drafts.

At the February meeting, the members will discuss the articles, make suggestions for editing and revisions, and then finalize the article to be submitted to English and Arabic publications. We would like to produce a series of such articles intended to raise awareness about the issue and to counter some of the common myths about HIV/AIDS and violence against women. At the next meeting, we will identify the most common myths and determine how best to write articles to address them.

COORDINATING BODY : Ghassan will check with the Director of CATALYST, an Egyptian NGO, to determine whether it would be feasible for CATALYST to act as the coordinating organization for the Coalition and to be the conduit for funds for the coalition’s projects.

PLAN OF ACTION : Perveen will contact Sally and Cookie (International Intersect Coalition) to find out whether they would be available to come to Egypt in March to facilitate a day-long workshop to help the coalition develop a structure and plan of action. At the next meeting, we will brainstorm project ideas that we would like to include in our plan of action.

The International Intersect Coalition forwarded us an article (attached) about the unique importance of having a coalition that addresses the connection between HIV/AIDS and violence against women.

PRESENTATION : Dr. Ghassan will do a presentation for the Coalition members on HIV/AIDS on Wednesday, 19 January, from 12:00-2:00 p.m. at the Catalyst office, provided it is approved by the Director.  He will confirm with the members of the Coalition by e-mail.

PUBLICATIONS : Dr. Afaf will obtain information packages on HIV/AIDS awareness in Egypt from the Ministry to distribute to each member NGO of the Coalition

NEXT MEETING AGENDA : Review Draft English and Arabic Articles / Plans for Publication / Identify Myths to Address in Future Articles / Brainstorm Project Ideas / Report Back on Date for Workshop to Organize the Work Plan-Perveen / Report Back on Coordinating Body-Ghassan / Packages on HIV/AIDS Awareness in Egypt Distributed-Dr. Afaf

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