Giraffe Heroes Egypt

               graham in tahrir square cairo
John Graham in Tahrir Square, Cairo

GHI has been in contact with the heroes of Tahrir Square since the beginning of the Egyptian Revolution in 2011. GHI Director John Graham went to Cairo in late May 2013 to set the groundwork for launching Giraffe Heroes Egypt (GHE), a new movement whose purpose is to find and tell the stories of Egypt's heroes—courageous men and women whose examples will inspire others to transcend religion and partisanship to build together a new Egypt that is safe, stable, just and prosperous. GHE will help construct what Egypt so desperately needs — a national process of building instead of tearing down.

Graham met with key NGO leaders, politicians and educators in both Cairo and Alexandria. All were very enthusiastic about using the Giraffe vision and methods to move many more Egyptians to help rebuild the social and political infrastructure of the country after 30 years of one-man rule. The Library of Alexandria, a secular political party and a human rights-oriented law firm all expressed interest in hosting the new organization. During his visit, Graham gave three seminars on political action, suggesting ways that even people who live in a society as deeply polarized as Egypt’s might find ways to work together to build the secure, just and prosperous society they all say they want.

The work is not without risks. 48 hours after Graham left the country, the Cairo Court ordered the arrest of all foreigners “teaching democracy.”

A few weeks later the Morsi Government was overthrown by the Army, many Morsi supporters (and many others) were killed and the Muslim Brotherhood leaders were arrested. As the year comes to an end, there is a fragile peace, pending the adoption of a new constitution and new elections in the spring.

Meanwhile, plans for the launch of Giraffe Heroes Egypt have been delayed until the dust settles a bit more. The need for this new organization grows by the day. Egyptians have got to find a way to live together, Muslim and Christian, religious and secular. Their heroes can show them how, and Giraffe Heroes Egypt will tell the stories of those heroes—men and women from all religions, or no religion, committed to a free, democratic pluralism.

As the continuing unrest shows, the 2011 Revolution may have the easiest part of this enormous transition in Egypt. Most of the heavy lifting—writing a secular constitution that upholds the rights of all Egyptians, developing and strengthening a vibrant civil society, creating a workable parliamentary and court system—lies ahead. But none of it will succeed until Egyptians can talk and work together— discussing, forming and implementing a common vision of their future. By giving them examples of their own heroes, GHE will inspire and support this process.

Giraffe Heroes International continues to coach by e-mail and Skype from the US. Stay tuned.


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Snapshots of GHI

Graham and friends in Beirut
Young Leaders in Lagos
John Graham In Geneva
Graham and Sudanese Professor Afaf Al-Haboub in Geneva
jg at tilingatar
Graham and students in Kathmandu