- Middle East/North Africa
With the sounds of Jingle bells, a young lady dressed in a decent Santa Claus costume with a red backpack took to one of Cairo's streets last week to share happiness and draw big smiles on people's faces.
After the wave of grief that hit Egypt over the last two weeks, photographer Gehad Saad decided to launch a new creative photo session. He picked a young beautiful lady named Naira Hany and asked her to dress in a Santa Claus outfit, went through Zamalek neighborhood streets to distribute chocolates on the random passerby, street vendors and passengers of public buses.
"I chose my friend Hany because she is a decent lady who looks very young; she loved the idea, and she had already dressed in many cartoon costumes in intatives and marathons like Mickey Mouse," Saad told Egypt Independent.
"I decided to go for a lady dressed as Santa this year for two reasons. One of them is that 2017 is the Year of Women; second, I want to break the traditional image of the Santa Claus which is an old fat man and say, hey, why not? it could be a young lady."
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced that 2017 will be the year of the Egyptian woman. The National Council for Women signed an agreement with the Ministry of Health and Population to declare 2017 the Year of "Egyptian women's health".
Moreover, Saad said that part of his message is to encourage people to do good deeds and to share happiness with others. "I call on people to go to streets, buy candies or anything and distribute them to other people to share the joy." Saad usually works on free photography sessions to demonstrate women's rights and combat violence against women; he photographed sessions that were against the marriage of minors, sexual harassment and other women related issues.
Saad chose Zamalek neighborhood, a classy European-style place where they could expect less criticism or impolite comments from the street passersby and car passengers; "however, we decided to give the chocolates to simple people including the motorcycle driver, the street vendors, and simple girls selling in clothes boutiques, I believe these people really deserve appreciation and need someone to draw a smile on their faces," Saad said.
Saad said that currently they are collecting donations to repeat the same experience in the children cancer hospital 57357.
On the other hand, Egypt Independent interviewed the young Santa lady, "Hany", who expressed her happiness and pleasure in participating in this experience; "When Saad told me about the idea it did not take me a second to decide, I was very enthused and I liked it so much," Naira Hany said.
Hany said that at first she was concerned about the feedback, but then she was surprised by the supportive comments from people, all of whom were very happy with the idea. Others said she looks good.
"Our main message is to say that the girl has the right to dress in a decent outfit and walk in the street in all safety; "the most beautiful feedback was from a Christian couple who agreed to take the chocolates for the photo session, then they returned it back because they were fasting," she said.
The photos went viral on social media with thousands of shares and likes; "one of the most supportive comments was from my friend who lives abroad; he shared the photos saying that things like this may make these horrible days the country is going through now bearable".