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The Book Drop Campaign

 

 

Within a world where destiny seems predetermined, life gets brighter whenever you meet someone who defeats the odds. Someone who despite all the challenges that seem endless, manages to build a path and follow it. This can be achieved through having a vision and believing that hard work can achieve it. Imagine the surge of inspiration you can get by meeting someone like this. Well, you don’t have to imagine anymore, let us tell you the story of Selim Fradj.

 

Born in Sousse and raised in Nadhour, Selim is the proud owner of “Coin d’élite”, the only cultural café in his community. Even though Nadhour is around 100 KM away from the capital Tunis, it’s still unknown to many people. Whenever people hear the name of this little town, they immediately think of the Prison in Bizerte. But let me tell you about this up and coming community that is working hard to develop itself with the help of its motivated youth. Nadhour is a small town situated between Kairouan, Saouef and Fahs. It belongs to the governorate of Zaghouan and it’s mainly known for the quality of its olive oil. Being essentially an agricultural area, it produces olive oil with international standards. Despite that, the area still lacks in terms of development as it doesn’t have access to some basic services. Within this community, there is a clear lack in terms of cultural activities. It’s an area where mainly men find places to go and hang out in while no coffee places are open for women. That’s when Selim came in with his cultural space to try and offer all the people of Nadhour a safe space where they can meet while getting exposed to cultural activities. His space will host “loup-garou” games, info sessions about opportunities, book clubs, music nights, movie screenings and café talks. 

When we met with Selim, we tried to peek behind the curtain to try and understand how his life led to this moment. At age 28, Selim struggled through the education system by studying in numerous institutions without finding the right fit for him. Despite being passionate about finishing his studies in the engineering path, he was discouraged out of it through all the administrative problems that he dealt with. At a certain point, he tried getting on various other educational endeavors but ended up getting more confused. This led him to a dark place where he felt like a failure without any hope for his future. Selim’s life changed when he got involved in the Ma3an Project, an initiative that targets community resilience within 30 communities in Tunisia including Nadhour. This project showed Selim a certain level of synergy that he never truly witnessed before. Gathering 30 gender balanced youth from Nadhour, this project showed him how important it is for both halves of the community to mingle. At the same time, there is a lack in terms of cultural activities in Nadhour as his peers are talented in artistic endeavors yet the struggle to find the proper space to express them.

That’s when “Coin d’élite” comes in to break the routine of the youth in the community. With this cultural place, the people of Nadhour will have innovative activities to entertain them while developing their skills. Despite all the financial and social challenges that came with the creation of this project, Selim is very happy and proud that he found a purpose with this initiative. He will use his platform to encourage artists and dreams in the community of Nadhour to follow their passion. Fradj wants all the youth in Nadhour to believe in their ideas and work hard to achieve them. After five years, he envisions his cultural space full of piles of books with people sitting on their laptops working or studying. He believes in the possibility of eliminating the stigma and social barriers where boys and girls feel comfortable hanging out with each other. That’s when “Coin d’élite” becomes a happy and safe refuge for everyone. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                           Written by Iyed Hamadi 

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