It all started in August 2019. I was getting ready to head to the USA. After a few days, I was all set to begin the most inspiring chapter of my life so far. Once I arrived, and with the help of the service-learning office at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, I was able to find the perfect volunteering opportunity that matched my interests and skills. I have been interested in sustainability, and I like to get to know people from different backgrounds. My advisor suggested a place where I could work in recycling and meet some people who used to be homeless.
In this way, I started the community service part of the Global UGRAD Program at the Hope Gospel Mission. Hope Gospel Mission aims to help the homeless while helping the environment. They do this by collecting used items from families around the city and recycling them. All of the profits are used to help the homeless who will also have the opportunity to be hired there after attending a rehabilitation program. In the light of the above mentioned, I spent my time there performing different activities from receiving donations to recycling. I could perceive the significance of recycling not just on the environment but also on impacting the livelihood of many people. On the other hand, I observed the way waste is sorted to be ready for recycling, specifically food waste.
I came back to my country full of memories and a desire to have an impact. I became concerned about waste and noticed the amount of food that is being wasted from restaurants and hotels. I researched the possibilities to reuse the excess food in a suitable way for our community.
I was thrilled to find out about the Food for Good challenge of the Hult Prize for 2021. I joined a team to participate in our campus Hult prize competition. I was happy to collaborate with another Global UGRAD student on this team. We worked together to find a method to use the waste in a way that will create job opportunities, improve the soil, and produce more nutritious produce, thus improving food quality and reducing food waste. We were able to develop a business plan, and have since won the competition on our campus. In the next few months, we will be competing in the regional competition within Egypt.
Afterward, we will begin implementing our project which will turn the food waste collected from restaurants and hotels into organic fertilizers which will be used at a farm to grow organic crops. I’m very excited to engage in my community regardless of the hardships of the pandemic. My Global UGRAD journey has taught me adaptability and resilience, and that it’s the right time to put my experience giving back to my community into action.
Abdelrahman Sayed, Egypt, Global UGRAD 2019-2020, University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire