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Featured Journey of the Quarter: The 2019 African Regional Conference, Hosted by FF Cairo, Egypt

Our Featured Journey of the Quarter is January’s African Regional Conference hosted by FF Cairo, Egypt. About 40 delegates from six clubs total attended the Conference, with members from Kenya, Uganda, Sierra Leone, and Ghana, along with a significant contingent of members from the host club of FF Cairo.

In attendance from FFI Headquarters was Director of Operations Debbie Powell, who opened the Conference’s first full day of meetings and workshops with “Friendship Force 101.” This session included basic background on the organization, history, philosophy, expectations of members and clubs, what FFI can do for you, how to train hosts, recruiting new members and hosts from the community, how the matching process works, a network overview with updates from HQ and around the world etc. President and CEO Jeremi Snook joined via video conference talk about the Strategic Plan with delegates.

“It was a pleasure to spend three days with such an enthusiastic group of club leaders and members,” said Debbie. “Many were learning about Friendship Force for the first time and taking their newfound knowledge back home to build a stronger Friendship Force presence in their communities.

The next day started with a thrilling cultural excursion to see the famed Pyramids and Sphinx. Afterwards, the group received a private tour of underground tombs by a local archaeologist who was a friend of FF Cairo Club President, Hanaa Rashad. Workshops continued that afternoon, with members looking at challenges for African clubs and how they could solve or reduce them. Delegates also learned about materials and resources available from FFI, and then split into national delegations to discuss more specific local issues. FFI Regional Support Manager for Africa, Valerie Malfara, joined the Conference virtually that day to greet everyone.

The delegates came to the conclusion that more inter-African communication and collaboration was needed to help the members feel more connected, to share ideas, and to build on the camaraderie that had developed over the three days. “It was great to see how innovative the delegates were, suggesting an African Whatsapp discussion group and committing to sending more news stories and photos to FFI in order to improve their visibility. These first steps will go a long way towards creating a stronger Friendship Force in Africa,” explained Debbie.

This FFI African Regional Conference “…was successful and highly educational,” according to Terry Gichuiya, President of FF Nairobi, Kenya, and delegates left feeling inspired and energized.

FF Cairo President Hanaa Rashad agreed, saying “It was a good opportunity to meet African members and be close to them and listen to their challenges and their problems and know more about their countries and their culture.” Hedayet Kamal, a member of FF Cairo for almost thirty years, felt it was a good experience overall for her, saying “It was very interesting to meet members of the Friendship Force clubs in Africa and [see] how enthusiastic they are to establish strong clubs in their countries and to resolve the problems they face.”

Debbie concluded, “I really want to extend thanks, on behalf of the whole group, to Hanaa Rashad, Club President of FF Cairo for making all the arrangements and for her warm hospitality.” Thank you also to all of the African delegates and members of host club FF Cairo for making our organization stronger on your continent!

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