My brown eyes are brimming with joy. It is partly because of Shaimaa the young Egyptian lady who has become my sister for the three days that I have been in Cairo. She is one of those people who are born with joy on their forehead. You can almost touch that joy every time you look at her. And since I gaze at her often, I touch and hug this joy a million times.
At this particular moment in the photo, Shaimaa is the only one standing. It’s not clear whether she is looking at me, her brand new Kenyan brother or at the painting whose hidden meaning I am busy explaining. You would think that I am a distinguished professor of paintings. It’s an abstract painting by a young Libyan man, one of the dozens of environmental themed paintings that have been submitted to the United Nations Environment Programme by hundreds of North African youth.
All these amazing young people are participating in UNEP’s Africa Environment Outlook for Youth Project that I am coordinating. The idea is for the green youth voice from all across Africa to be captured through such paintings together with different forms of other artistic and creative contributions.
I glance up from the painting at the exact moment that Shaimaa is looking at the joy that is in my brown eyes. We both smile as does Medhat, the young Egyptian lawyer to my right. Also smiling warmly are three university students from Caoiro – Mahmoud, Asmaa and Fatma.
At that moment, we are just children of Africa, united by art from Libya.