Youssef Youssef- The Man Behind the Scenes
03 Jan, 2013
I joined Apache in November 2005 as a project engineer to supervise the construction of the schools. When I joined Apache, only 9 schools were built and there were a number of schools that were under construction.
At the beginning, it was just a job for me. I was only keen on finishing this batch of schools and moving on to the next one in order to meet the tight schedule of finishing 200 schools by the end of 2006, which means 13 months of very hard work.For a while, I was only concerned with the construction of the schools and finishing them, then hand them over and move on to another batch. This continued to be the case till the day I visited a school after it began operating.
This visit completely changed my perspective of the job and of the project. On that day, I visited a school that had just started operating followed by a school that had been operating for approximately 2 months. The difference was unimaginable, and still is. I really understood how these schools are affecting and positively changing the lives of the girls that attend, the community they are in, and the country as a whole. Since that day, I began viewing this project in a different way. I felt that it is not a coincidence that I am working on this project so I decided that my input will not be the input of any other engineer in my position. I have to give more to this project.
Throughout our construction process, through interaction with the communities, we learned to improve our support. We started to add fixtures to the schools to make them even more durable. For example, while we were building we added stone cladding to all of the unfinished schools. We also changed the outside light fixtures that despite their great look and importance to the design they were not durable. Currently, we are adding more enhancements such as window screens and protection steel for all the windows. To prevent damage to the interior paint on the walls, we installed wooden bars to hang artwork and other school teaching aids. Additionally, there are always minor touchups and repairs from just normal wear and tear. I believe that as we go on in this process we will discover more and more issues that need to be addressed and modified in the schools to continually improve the learning environment for the girls.
I believe that the phase we are in is even more difficult than the construction phase. It requires us to maintain our sense of urgency because the efforts in this phase require many other obligations, including motivation of teachers and students to keep the schools at their best. The challenges of maintaining the schools and teaching the teachers and the girls how to take care of the schools and to have pride in their accomplishments is crucial to keep the schools at high standards for the area.
Today, after 7 years working on this project, more than 10,000 girls received education. A lot of areas in the three governorates were developed on the construction and infrastructure levels as well as the humanitarian level. More villages are now able to enjoy electricity and fresh water because of the schools and I have seen places in Egypt that I have never been to before.
I am and will always be proud that I was part of this project.