Naguib Sawiris and Forest Whitaker during a press conference on 28 September at El-Gouna Film Festival (Photo: Soha Elsirgany)
A partnership between El-Gouna Film Festival Founder Naguib Sawiris and award winning actor Forest Whitaker’s Peace and Development Initiative (WPDI) was announced during a press conference 28 September.
Sawiris had approached Whitaker with an interest to support his Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative and its projects in South Sudan.
“Conflict in South Sudan has been a reality for too long. One of the first costs that young people pay are that they are victims and perpetrators of the violence, and the unseen cost is that they miss out on their education,” Whitaker said at the press conference.
The actor highlighted that the project’s approach is to empower young people and individuals who feel their societies don’t provide them with tools to fulfill their potential.
“I want to stress that we promote peace development. And you can’t have development without peace. The connection to peace and development relies on local conditions. You need people that are curious and want to learn to be able to make the change,” said Whitaker.
The WPDI also has a sports and cinema programme, which started in Juba camps in Sudan.
“We wanted to create a place where people would be able to deal with their stress, and grow. Now its five years strong, and we moved it also to Uganda,” Whitaker said.
“We’ve been able to do this because of our partners. Now I’m fortunate to have a new partner, and we can take this project even further,” he added.
For his part Sawiris shared some of the ways he plans on supporting the foundation, aside from financial donations. He will provide flights for Whitaker and his team to travel to Sudan, in addition to building factories to offer employment opportunities for those trained in the project.
“I’m honored to be your partner. May God bless you and keep up the good work,” Sawiris said addressing Whitaker.
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