Omneya Khalifa’s Inaugural Folklorama Journey
Sold-out shows, a colourful, high-energy buzz, spectacular performances, and tasty, authentic snacks – all facets that amounted to the success of the Egyptian Pavilion’s inaugural year in 2019.
Although the novel pavilion seemingly sprung up and took Winnipeg by storm during Folklorama’s 50th celebrations, it was three years in the making. It is impossible for a pavilion to come together overnight; the Egyptian community, including Pavilion Co-Coordinator Omneya Khalifa, had been working hard for years to bring their vision to life.
“It seems like ages ago now,” states Omneya Khalifa. “It is an experience I will not forget for sure and certainly something that I enjoyed doing very much.. Being part of the first ever Egyptian Folklorama Pavilion! It started as a small volunteering task with my daughter Gena, the Egyptian Folklorama Youth Ambassador. Things got bigger and bigger… suddenly, I became the Pavilion Co-Coordinator, along with my friend Hala Salama, the other Co-Coordinator. We were lucky to have been supported by a wonderful team of volunteers from all over Winnipeg.”
The Winnipeg-Egyptian community pulled together to get the pavilion off the ground, no detail overlooked.
“I recall days and days with this group of wonderful ladies testing items for the menu or studying for the food handler’s certificate. Figuring out how to complete all the requirements or find suppliers for the items we needed,” recalls Khalifa fondly.
It wasn’t always smooth sailing during the organizing and planning stages. Like any massive project, there were hurdles to overcome and the team had to be quick on their feet and innovative.
“There were lots of ups and downs… There were changes in the dancing group that was supposed to participate…We managed to discover wonderful talents in Winnipeg who presented at the Pavilion. We finally managed to put together an amazing show. Our incredible main artist – Mohamed el Sayed came from Egypt especially for the event.”
Having the Egyptian Pavilion to educate and represent the culture and community in Winnipeg was fulfilling and rewarding.
“I hope you had a nice experience sharing part of Egyptian culture and celebrating our identity. Egyptians are famous of being happy and smiling despite all hardships. I hope also we managed to offer a taste of our delicious food (shawerma and koshari).. Yummy.. Home made by volunteers as well.”
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