02 May 2019 Story Sustainable Development Goals

Fine tuning for the big performance

“Being an entrepreneur is a challenge but also a great privilege,” says Egyptian musician and artist Shady Rabab. The Young Champion of the Earth for Africa is preparing to give a workshop in Morocco, at the General Assembly of Citizen Entrepreneurs and Organizations.

Under the patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco and President of France Emmanuel Macron, the event on 28 June 2019 gives young entrepreneurs like Rabab - who are already inspiring positive action to protect the environment - an opportunity to share their work.

Rabab intends to use his presence at the event to highlight an important message. “Rather than blaming individuals for the waste that is generated in our societies, I want to highlight structural problems in the ways that our economies are built,” says Rabab.

Driven by a passion for music, art and a love of experimentation and co-learning, Rabab’s

Luxor Art organization was started by a group of artists from Upper Egypt in 2017.

The group has come a long way since winning the United Nations Environment Young Champions of the Earth Award in September 2018, implementing phase one of their project to raise awareness among the local community about environmental pollution, and improve knowledge, skills, attitudes and motivation to tackle current challenges.

“Individuals can recycle waste and strive towards better environmental awareness, but in the absence of a comprehensive solution for waste management, our efforts will fall short in attaining environmental justice,” he notes. 

“What we would like to argue for and build is an alternative global and local economy that is based on sustainable and clean energy.”

A flood of children willing to participate prompted the group to include extra students. Credit: Rabab Luxor Art Organization

Initially, Rabab set out to work with 12 children, boys and girls, between the ages of 12 and 16, during phase one. However, a flood of children willing to participate prompted the group to include 36 participants instead—half of them girls and half boys.

The Rabab Garbage group has a bigger aim than producing good music from instruments curated from plastic waste alone. The approach they use also builds social inclusion, working with marginalized children, to support artistic expression and creative skills.

“This has meant tripling the effort of our team, which works almost voluntarily due to our dependence on seed funding,” Rabab says. Over the course of four months, the 36 boys and girls have built musical instruments and practised playing together as a band.

“We aim to reinforce educational values to foster communication, respect, sharing, partnership, safety, trust, team building and self-confidence,” adds Rabab. “We also talk together with the children to combat bullying, helping them to deal with anger, confronting fears and encouraging critical thinking.”

Rabab’s group aims to reinforce respect, sharing, partnership, safety, trust, team building and self-confidence. Credit: Rabab Luxor Art Organization

The latest activities have focused on procuring state-of-the-art sound equipment, vital for performing publicly, and the garbage music project is currently preparing to put on a major concert in June.

“Quality sound equipment will allow children to collectively rehearse the music they have created, allowing them to explore, through practice, the beauty and the endless possibilities that reside in their handmade recycled instruments,” Rabab reflects.  

“We are hugely excited to put on a successful public performance to which the local community, media and other stakeholders will be invited. The performance will allow the children to feel a sense of achievement as they play in front of their relatives, friends and the larger community.

“This outreach further encourages the community and other children who will be excited and encouraged to join the group. A successful performance also means that our environmental message to reduce and reuse waste, especially plastic, will be spread more broadly. We hope this effort will also support us in finding more funding to continue to support the children,” he adds.  

Stay tuned!

The Young Champions of the Earth prize, powered by Covestro, recognizes and celebrates young entrepreneurs making a difference for the environment. The winners for 2019 will be announced in September. Applications open again in January 2020. Stay tuned!