Finalists 2013

Finalist #1 Helm (Sector: Social)

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Amena El-Saie and Ramez Maher

There are 10-15 million people in Egypt currently living with a mental or physical disability. As a nation, Egypt is ill-equipped to provide the support people with disabilities desperately need. From functioning elevators and on-ramps for wheelchairs to public transportation, education, jobs and integration; Egypt fails to impress.

Enter Helm. The name translates to ‘Dream,’ an organization aiming to one day provide adequate care and aid to the millions of Egyptians suffering from disabilities so they may become productive and integrated members of society. As part of their mission statement, Helm wishes to facilitate the employability process and increase job opportunities by connecting people with special needs with employers, and helping to launch and support for-profit businesses with inclusive employment policies. The idea behind supporting for-profit enterprises is to ensure that both new and existing businesses can flourish, setting a good example for the rest of society, while proving that such projects can operate as a profitable business.The team wants to stop businesses from hiring people with disabilities because they feel pity for them. Instead, the team wants to show people that those with disabilities can be an asset to society and the economy, not a burden.

As part of the 1975 Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons Act, a law passed by the government to ensure that people with disabilities are not ostracised from their communities, any business with 50 or more employees must have no less than five per cent of their total workforce consist of people with disabilities, as defined by the act. Despite the existence of the law, there is a lack of enforcement and organisations that aid the disabled. Helm acts as an intermediary, aiming to be the missing link between employees and employers, either directly or through centres that specialise in a specific disability. They believe that every person with a disability can be well suited for work, with a natural specialty that can be utilised with every disability.

Families in Egypt who have children with disabilities often do not engage in family activities in public out of fear their children would get teased or ostracised. The first for-profit project to take flight will be an entertainment cultural center that will provide visitors with full-time professional care for children with special needs as well as various shows including performers with disabilities, such as the Al Nour Wal Amal Association’s blind girls’ band. The centre will also have a eatery serving traditional Egyptian food and a store where contemporary Egyptian products created by people with disabilities from all over Egypt will be sold. The restaurant will have dedicated ‘dine in the dark’ nights, where blind people are put to work. Blind employees will be given the training needed to be able to take orders and deliver food.

Helm was conceived last year, and is now a student community service in the American University in Egypt. So far Helm has helped over 200 people with disabilities have sustainable jobs according to each person’s competencies. We have also created Art and Jewelry making courses to help talented girls and boys with mental disabilities that cannot work except from home. Helm is arranging their first art gallery to exhibit their work in zamalek soon.


Amena EL-Saie and Ramez Maher were childhood friends, studied the same major from the American University in Cairo, and currently work at the same human development company, in addition to two part-time jobs to support their newly-founded nonprofit organization, Helm.

Amena graduated with honors (cum laude) from the American University in Cairo (AUC) with a double major in Journalism and Mass Communication and Art Vision while minoring in Psychology. She has also studied Business at Goethe University, Germany. While she was a student, she successfully established Alemny (meaning “teach me”, a project for improving education in Egypt) in collaboration with AUC’s School of Continuing Education. She created a sewage system for six houses in the Bulak district and also helped a working mother from the area to start-up her own nursery. Amena has been awarded the social entrepreneurship prize twice by Entrepreneurs Society for two different projects.

Ramez has worked part-time in Tatweer for Human Development while studying at the AUC. He was awarded "The Best Creative Project" for a campaign called Fakar benafsak meaning “Think for yourself” from J. Walter Thompson (JWT), one of the most prestigious names in the global advertising and marketing field. He has also won second place for political awareness campaigns by UNICEF, which was featured as part of the Abu Dahbi Film Festival. Ramez graduated with honors (cum laude) from the AUC with a BA in Integrated Marketing Communication and a minor in Anthropology.

Finalist #2: IDEA, Identification for Egypt's Advancement (Sector: Technology)

Khaled ElMahgoub

For any organization with standing inventory, managing and tracking assets is a daily and necessary task that must be completed periodically, yet today it remains a tedious, costly and inefficient endeavor. The Application of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology in Egypt is surely going to solve this problem by providing a cheaper, a safer, and a more efficient solution to track and manage all assets in real time without the need for human intervention. IDEA is a technology solutions company that seeks to solve the current problems within traditional identification and tracking systems through RFID technology. Such an advanced technology will also provide organizations with a fully automated system that instantly collects information about any item’s current location, history, and any other important data required. Moreover, it would allow lost assets to be immediately found, provide important real time information about the current status of any asset, and increase the level of safety for people in times of emergencies. RFID is a technology that uses radio signals to automatically identify objects. Unlike traditional barcode technology, RFID tags can be read through obstacles and from a distance of multiple meters and multiple tags can be read rapidly, simultaneously, and efficiently. It is an extremely versatile technology because of its ability to be programmed to respond to specific trigger events by sending real time alerts to nearly any electronic device. RFID enabled organizations will achieve numerous strategic and economic benefits such as and not limited to: streamlining asset management systems, collecting accurate information about anything efficiently and instantly, automating and speeding common business processes, reducing inventory loss and damage, improving productivity, and increasing data security and integrity. IDEA is aiming to target the health sector in Egypt to enhance the quality of service in Egyptian hospitals and then expand its service to educational and commercial sectors.


Khaled ElMahgoub is currently working as a senior validation engineer at Trimble Navigation, Cambridge, MA, USA possessing over eight years of experience in industry. He is a senior member of the team working in testing and developing RFID technology. ElMahgoub received his Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering from the University of Mississippi, USA, 2010. He received the B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in electronics and electrical communications engineering from Cairo University, Egypt, in 2001 and 2006, respectively. During his graduate studies, he worked as a teaching and research assistant. ElMahgoub is a senior member of IEEE, and a member of Applied Computational Electromagnetic Society (ACES) and Phi Kappa Phi honor society. He has coauthored more than 35 technical papers and 2 books. ElMahgoub is Listed in Who's Who in Science and Engineering. He is the recipient of University of Mississippi scholarship for Ph.D. Degree, University of Mississippi graduate school summer assistantship and Mobinil Scholarship for Masters Degree. His current research interests include RFID systems, antenna design and numerical techniques for electromagnetic.

Finalist #3 Sharek (Sector: Technology; Social)

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Osama El-Gohary, Ahmed Eldakhakhny and Molham Sameer

There are many neighborhoods and cities in Egypt that are suffering from problems like garbage, security and landscaping. These problems will never be solved except through the people who live in the same area and suffer from these problems every day. Some people have the solutions but they are not implemented the right way,. All of these people would like to use Sharek.

Sharek is a web-based software system, which is based on several patents that is owned by the Sharek team. The software is divided into two main schemes: platform of communication with neighbors and also a commercial site that provides and suggests products that solve specific problems that are common in the majority of the neighborhoods in Cairo. Through Sharek, anyone will be able to share their personal problems with their neighbors who live in the same street whether these problems are a result of a certain attitude or a problem that faces the entire street or neighborhood. Sharek will allow only trusted users to share, store, view, print, pay, compare between relevant products and remotely retrieve companies’ offers.

Here's how it works: any person that has an idea or needs to collect money and wishes to share it with his neighbors to solve a specific problem in his area e.g. garbage, He/she needs to only drag a photo that describes the current problem and write a comment in less than 200 characters to the Sharek software and it is immediately and automatically encrypted. From Sharek you can specify the neighborhoods that are permitted to have access to the photo and the suggested solution (the distribution list) and whether they may print the document. Recipients will receive an automatic notification on their Facebook account and on their emails that there is a new idea/solution that have been posted, they will also have the ability to comment, contribute by paying any amount of money, print (if allowed) the solution of the problem, but must do so from within Sharek web based software. All activities are logged and this log is transmitted to the idea’s author. Recipients can only share the idea with people on the distribution list. The idea may not be edited nor can its image be captured from the screen via the local operating system. Further, the idea will not be available as an independent file and so cannot be "seen” outside of Sharek. As a final security measure, any payment will be done through Sharek software, the contributor need only to enter his mobile number and the amount that he/she wants to contribute with, and this amount will be deducted from his mobile credit or will be added to his mobile bill only in case the idea succeeded to collect the amount needed to be implemented.

This technology virtually guarantees the security of the idea and payment procedures while guranteeing user's convenience. Further, the audit log provides excellent forensic abilities to further mitigate potential misuse. Sharek will work on all major computing and mobile platforms. And it will provide a graded encryption and a unique approach to protect user information no matter what ideas they have shared.


The last 10 years has had a great impact on Osama's professional and business path, as he acquired diversified experience throughout various fields, starting with being the office manager for the First Assistant of the Minister of Interior, them moved into the hydrocarbon sector, to act as an analyst within the technical office of the Minister of Petroleum. Briefly, the exposure was unique as he has been encountered by sensitive and critical issues that require swift actions while considering high diplomacy. It is worth mentioning, that the technical aspect was a kaleidoscope of, business development, marketing, planning, setting strategies and problem solving. All above-mentioned, triggered the idea of enhancing his personal skills, and accordingly he joined The HULT International Business School in USA , to study Digital Marketing for one year. Such long duration provided him with sociopolitical know how. Last but not least, Osama is always keen to exploit and utilize his personal experience in serving valuable goals and objectives.

Finalist #4 MADDAD (Sector: Technology; Social)

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Sherif Nagui Yacoub (CFO), Sameh Awad (CEO), Sara El Saed (COO), Ahmed Azzam (CTO) and Heba Bahgat (CMO)

It’s estimated that Egyptians pay more than 5 billion EGP (~800,000 USD) a year in a form of giving; a huge national asset that is not maximized to its full potential. Meanwhile, Egypt’s civil society incorporates more than 40,000 NGOs, 5,000 of them incorporated in 2011 alone; yet only few are able to market their charitable causes and successes leading them to take the lion’s share of the funds.

Madad is a social business powered by an online platform that brings technology and a business mindset to the civil society. Madad supports the development of Egypt in a sustainable and strategic manner through providing a gateway for all donations, supporting organizations in their contribution to society, marketing causes through innovation channels and ensuring development is strategically planned and performed transparently. Madad identifies and targets high impact, sustainable projects and then provides a means for these NGOs to promote their projects and generate funds needed. In return, Madad solicits regular reports and media for updates of the projects progress, developments, achievements and outstanding needs for donation marketing and donor reporting purposes. The portal ensures full transparency over the donated funds and tracks each projects progress on a regular basis. It further capitalizes on donors to promote projects virally using social media, thus creating a fundraising network using the donors themselves.


Sherif Nagui Yacoub is the co-founder and CFO of Madad, a social business start-up that utilizes crowd-funding to fundraise for development projects in Egypt, focusing on poverty reduction, access to health, access to education, women empowerment and environment protection. Sherif currently attaining his MBA degree from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, where he is involved with Wharton’s Social Venture Fund; a student-led impact investment fund, and co-organized the Wharton Middle East and North Africa Conference. Sherif’s background is in management consulting with Booz & Company in the Middle East where he worked with public and private sector clients in the fields of transportation, construction, telecom and healthcare. Additionally, Sherif is the co-founder of the Organization for Egyptian Empowerment and Development (OREED), an NGO working on active citizenship education and youth empowerment that has been recently incubated by Nahdet Al Mahrousa, a major social enterprise incubator. Sherif holds a B.A. in Business Finance from the American University in Cairo.

Finalist #5 GebRaa (Sector: Culture)

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Rania Salah

The name is a combination of Geb, god of fertility and earth for Ancient Egyptian and Ra, god of Sun. GebRaa is a sole proprietorship to market and export Egyptian handicrafts, linking marginalized artisans to the global market. GebRaa’s mission is to protect disappearing traditional Egyptian crafts using mostly natural resources with low environmental footprint; build capacity of artisans and help them develop the crafts to create sustainable livelihoods; enhance the societal status of artisans and promote succession among community youth; fund community development projects in different artisans communities across the country as well as promote the Egyptian culture and support cultural diversity of the world. Visit www.gebraa.comGebRaa was founded in 2008 and started operations 2012 to help Egyptian marginalized artisans find new markets for their threatened crafts, so they would feel economically & socially empowered & appreciated. GebRaa works to promote succession in disappearing crafts by offering training to artisans, aiming to inspire pride in their cultural heritage, and supporting product development to match the needs of socially conscious international customers striving for unique production. 70% of profits generated by GebRaa would go to fund activities of Karama NGO for community development and heritage preservation. GebRaa is a 2011 winner of SEED initiative (UNDP, UNEP, IUCN). Visit at


Rania is the founder of GebRaa. MA holder in Public Policy specialized in Cultural policies, Central European University, Budapest & a BSc holder in Economics, Cairo University. Rania has worked extensively in the fields of human development with national & international organizations like Ministry of supply Egypt, World Food Program, USAID, Doctors without Borders among others. Rania has a wide interest in volunteering, she volunteered for many organizations both in Cairo and Los Angeles like SIFE (founder of Cairo university team winning national championship 2011), Rotaract, UNICEF & others for environment, student development, labor rights, homeless children & single mothers, and more.Rania Salah is also the Owner and Managing director of a social enterprise for Exporting Egyptian traditional crafts at risk. Last activity was monitoring referendum on the Constitution, before that, was part of a campaign against sectarian violence in a small town in Giza as well as another campaign against relocating poor people living by the Nile in favor of big investments in hotels sector. She believes in dialogue and celebrating diversity, She also believes we need to deliver those values to Egyptians who have just started understanding they are diverse after the revolution. She has a wide interest in heritage, meeting people of different cultures as well as outdoor activities and cultural life of Cairo and helping with initiatives promoting for values of dialogue, diversity and non-violent conflict resolution

Finalist #6 MESHGEL (Sector: Industry; Social)

Areeg Ibrahim, Samaa Hosny and Basel Araj

MESHGEL is a project that attempts to provide training, employment and development in underprivileged regions. It matches partners from the corporate world with untrained workforce from underdeveloped districts. Corporate industries will set a unit called MESHGEL in an underprivileged neighborhood.

The industry, in collaboration with MESHGEL, will provide basic trainings to workers in the region and hire them in these units with reasonable wages. Part of the profit made in these manufacturing units will go to the corporation and a percentage will remain for the expansion and sustainability of the MESHGEL Later stages of the project are to include an Infirmary and a MESHGEL Junior Annex that would provide basic training and education for the homeless children of these regions.

Egypt is a country with great human resources, but many are neither trained nor have the necessary skills for the industry. The word “meshgel” in Arabic means workshop. The idea of this project is to build one of these institutions, a “meshgel”, by one of the neighboring partnering corporations in underdeveloped districts so that the residents get technical training and other benefits. The project is sector free; that is, it can work across sectors, depending on the needs analysis of the businesses involved. Textile can be one of the primary sectors to be explored. The replication of such model will help the corporations, with CSR, to assume the patronage and sponsorship of the development of certain neighborhoods. Positive publicity and worthwhile competitiveness between the businesses can be expected as an addition.

The project can begin as a separate NGO or as an incubated program in an existing NGO. Its business model assumes an ease of entry, sustainability and scalability. Its social impact extends to serve not only the unemployed workers, but also the unemployed university graduates, the homeless children and the partnering corporations. The long-term impact aspires to change the ecosystem of both these underdeveloped areas as well as the public/private partnerships in the field of education and development.


Areeg Ibrahim is an Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at Helwan University in Egypt and a consultant in educational management. In 2010 she was a public service fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School and she earned the Academic Achievement and Public Service award. In 2006 she was a Fulbrighter and a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Yale University. Before that, she was a Visiting Scholar at the Martin Segal Theatre, at the Graduate Center, CUNY, NY. Areeg Ibrahim graduated from the American University in Cairo and obtained her PhD in Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies from the University of Connecticut. She has recently finished translating into Arabic a couple of books on theatre. She is also a published creative writer of Arabic fiction.

Finalist #7 CleanTech Arabia (Sector: Environment; Technology)

Sherif Kinawy, Abdullah Galaa, Ahmed Huzayyin, Amgad El Dib and Hesham Osman

Cleantech Arabia is based on the belief that the greatest challenge humanity is currently facing is building the capability to become more sustainable and minimize negative impact on the environment. We have a goal rather than a dream of Egypt amongst other Arab countries ranking in the top ten sustainable communities in the world and leading the Clean Technology movement. This goal is entirely based on our belief in the people of Egypt and the Arab world, their existing knowledge, innovation, and will to change to the better.

Clean Technology refers to a diverse range of inventions, products, processes and services that perform an existing or improved function with a reduced negative impact on the environment. It encompasses various aspects such as generating renewable energy, using low emission transportation modes, recycling, conserving energy and water, and optimizing project management. Our motivation stems from multiple realizations and convictions, the most important of which is that Clean Technology is becoming a major global economic driver. Investing in Clean Technology is also a necessity in Egypt and the Arab World with projected water and energy shortages. Furthermore, common challenges due to underdeveloped infrastructures and poverty can be transformed into opportunities through innovation and investment in knowledge.

Cleantech Arabia is a development foundation which aims at advancing Clean Technology in the Arab World in order to improve quality of life, empower communities and tackle severe economic and environmental challenges. This goal will be achieved through advancing scientific knowledge and research collaboration and expanding public awareness with respect to Clean Technology. The foundation supports local talents, entrepreneurs, and initiatives and fosters a community of Clean Technology stakeholders through a variety of mechanisms. We believe in the power of the crowd and we aspire to provide means to tap the collective potential of the many. Cleantech Arabia, as a platform, incorporates a website which encompasses a collaborative online suite of tools to act as catalyst for achieving our objectives. This website, in addition to other tools and events will help us achieve a number of more specific goals including facilitating access to information and knowledge exchange, raising public awareness, supporting local entrepreneurs and development initiatives, and fostering a community of Clean Technology stakeholders.

Our website ( represents a collaborative information sharing web environment which allows interactive knowledge exchange. Users of the website can create accounts as individuals or organizations and build online profiles. Cleantech Arabia will also provide original articles written by experts and scientists to the public, strategic reports for policy makers, and news analysis with focus on knowledge and learning.In addition to the website, Cleantech Arabia is already in the process of organizing and delivering awareness campaigns and public talks. We will also provide publicity through a networking web tool optimized for Clean Technology stakeholders, with the aim to extend this network on the ground through competitions for entrepreneurs and students, and conferences and exhibitions for current investors and practitioners. We look forward to collaborating with everyone as part of this network.


Sherif Kinawy was born and raised in Cairo, Egypt. He is currently a PhD Candidate in the Construction Management Group at the University of Toronto where he also completed his Master of Environmental Science. Sherif’s work focuses on community engagement and sustainable infrastructure in cities. He is passionate about developing sustainable solutions to urban and rural issues through the power of local knowledge and wider collaboration. Sherif’s previous experiences include work in community development, educational programs as well as e-government platforms. He is also a member of the executive board of the Great Lakes Chapter of the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2), an organization that maintains a standardized public participation framework and set of core values with the aim of improving the practice of public participation. In 2011, a partnership with Abdullah Galaa, Ahmed Huzayyin, Amgad El Dib and Hesham Osman gave rise to the vision for Cleantech Arabia which continues to strive through an expanding community of contributors and an active web platform. When not working on Cleantech Arabia, Sherif is an advocate of cycling as an active mode of transportation and is currently involved in a number of initiatives to promote cycling in Egypt.

Finalist #8 Educate Me (Sector: Education)

Yasmin Helal, Mohamed Ramadan and Noura Galal

Educate-Me is a registered Egyptian NGO that was founded in June 2010 to serve financially underprivileged children at the outskirts of Giza, Egypt. It started off as a humble effort to reinstate school dropouts to Public Schools by financially sponsoring their fees and school gadgets, but later turned into an enterprise that is striving to redefine Education.

Educate-Me aspires to create an educational approach that would extract the hidden potentials of children without depriving them from living and experiencing their childhood to the fullest; an approach that raises generations of learners, who can learn, unlearn and relearn, who have the courage and perseverance to change both themselves and the world around them; to create the world of their dreams.

Educate-Me adopts a child-lead self-directed learning approach that empowers children to identify their goals, and figure out the means to reach them through capitalizing on their strengths and mobilizing their surrounding resources. It is currently delivered as a non-formal Education system that is running side by side with the Public Schooling of the children, but is developing towards a holistic system that should replace the current one.


Yasmin spent 19 years of her life as a Professional Basketball Player. Along her journey, she received 38 medals, was the captain of Gezira Sporting Club Team for several years and played for the Egyptian National Team. In 2007, Yasmin received her Bachelor Degree in Systems and Bio-Medical Engineering from Cairo University and graduated with High Honors. In December 2007, Yasmin joined the Telecom Giant Alcatel-Lucent, where she initially worked as a Field Network Engineer then later as a Middle East and Africa Network Design Engineer. In April 2011, Yasmin joined Wild Guanabna to support Omar Samra in building up both his Educational and Voluntourism arms, serving student and adult adventure seekers.

In 2010, Yasmin’s sense of Social Responsibility and Entrepreneurial spirit pushed her to start up an initiative named Educate-Me to help reinstate financially underprivileged children back to School. Educate-Me later turned into an NGO that's touching the lives of hundreds of people everyday through empowering them to pursue their dreams. In September 2011, Yasmin quit her full-time job and decided to solely focus on Educate-Me; becoming its full-time Executive Director. Finally, after figuring out that Education and Entrepreneurship are both her passions, Yasmin decided to complement her field experience with some Academic theory by pursuing her Masters in International Education Management at the University of Education in PH-Ludwigsburg, Germany.

Finalist #9 7ala Wa7da (Sector: Social; Technology)

Heba Hosny, Mahmoud Ghoz and Shady Mokhtar

Communities are based on interdependence; no man is an island on his own and it is in the nature of humanity to give a helping hand to others when you know that one day you may need a hand as well. This is what 7alaWa7da is about—providing people with a chance to partake in a more interdependent society by helping people help each other and thus, ultimately, help themselves. 40% of Egypt’s population live under poverty line, and that is one of the elements that contribute greatly to the deficiencies in Egypt’s social structure. Social entrepreneurs work for public interest and take an active role in helping our country in ways never thought possible by government resources alone. With proper planning and organization, Egyptians should be able to create a collective community that puts together a step-by-step manual for planning a successful NGO or “citizen sector organization” that has the ability to become what we can call a change maker.

7alaWa7da is a non-profit NGO website that facilitates raising funds for pressing charity efforts within a limited time frame. The website displays urgent cases from recognized and trusted NGOs, along with the collected and remaining sums of money required to aid these cases. In an attempt to bring home to people the sense of urgency in emergencies, a countdown timer is clearly visible on the homepage, displaying the amount of time left to take part in saving the case. Research shows that people are more likely to make a charitable gift to a single needy individual than to an entire impoverished region. We are wired to feel things for people, not for abstractions.


Heba Hosny is a senior quality assurance engineer. As a graduate from computer engineering department, Alex university. she started her career as a testing and quality engineer at IBM Cairo. With the experience gained in IBM, she then moved to the, at the time young, startup eSpace where she realized a dream of forming the first QA team in the company. Now she is working at yet another successful startup Vimov, a company that recently developed the first ranked weather apple app store product in Europe.

With a 10 years of experience in voluntary work, she then formed the startup ‘7alawa7da’. A website aiming at collecting donations for critical charity cases, featuring one case at a time. The idea was among the winners at multiple startup competitions among which, ArabNet conference in Cairo and the Startup Weekend Alexandria event.

Finalist #10 Alexandria 2024

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Yehia El Segini

For Alexandria: The dream of hosting the Olympics of 2024 will turn into the symbol, behind which, most Alexandrians will unite and get the inspiration, as well as, motivation to long for a better more civilized tomorrow. But the project is not just about sports, honor or motivation. Although, it is an amazing achievement in itself, just to make the people to be able to dream of hosting such a monumental event and work for it. And it is not only about the sports industry and its huge positive economic impact on the city. These are only the heading and the umbrella under which, lays the real goal of this project, of which, the outcome will remain as a great asset for the city, regardless what will be the decision of the International Olympic Committee. The goal is to implement a group of ideas that extract, manage & polish rusty, already existing , unused potentials of the city to put Alexandria on the world's touristic map, this will inevitably improve the quality of life of the citizens of the city. This is a global development of the mindset & awareness of the people of Alexandria, and of their actual surrounding environment, touching most facets of their daily life.