Tuesday,23 April, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1393, (10 - 16 May 2018)
Tuesday,23 April, 2019
Issue 1393, (10 - 16 May 2018)

Ahram Weekly

The right moment for diversion

Amira Elhamy listens to the inspiring stories of people who have been able to find new careers driven by inner passion

Kharma; Kandil and Ismail
Kharma; Kandil and Ismail

There’s always a voice inside us that knows what we really want, especially in choosing our career path. However, sometimes that voice fades away when we are bombarded with social pressures, or when we are asked to conform and choose the career that can give more stability to life.

Certain personalities choose not to conform, however, and they choose to follow their real passion regardless of the frames society draws for them. Some of these authentic personalities, driven by their passion, gathered at a TEDx conference recently held under the auspices of New Giza University in 6 October city under the theme of “Diversion”. 

Diversion is something that if you can embrace it at the right moment it can change your life completely and for the better. Here are some of the success stories presented at the TEDx conference. 


THE SKY IS THE LIMIT: According to Ali Ismail, founder of the Move Company for Athletic Training, the sky really can be the limit. “I simply found out its true meaning when I set up my health and wellness company Move,” he said.

“I studied business and finance at the American University in Cairo, but my real passion at that time was for sports,” Ismail said. “The first type of sports I did was running, and then I started to enter various international competitions while I was still completing my studies.”

 Ismail had an injury that held him back for a six-month period. “During this period, I really realised my passion for sports. After graduation, I started to look for opportunities that would enable me to acquire coaching certificates,” he recalled. 

“I flew to Spain to learn how to turn my passion for sports into a profession. I acquired several qualifications and started to work as a coach in Barcelona, staying there for nine months. After I came back to Egypt, I decided to start working as a coach at the Gezira Sporting Club, though I knew it was very competitive. I was competing with five big sports companies established five years ago.”

“I remember at the beginning I spent days standing on the Gezira Club track all alone at 7am and no one showed up,” he added.

At that time Ismail was bombarded with discouraging comments like “how come you studied business at the AUC and now you work as a coach,” “you need to get a stable job,” and “why are you doing this to yourself.”

 “Many people considered coaching to be a demeaning profession compared to what I had studied. I wasn’t making money at the beginning, but I chose to continue,” he recalled. Ismail passed through a lot of tough times, and at a certain point he said to himself that all the challenges he had faced would be his motivation to attain what he really wanted in life. 

“After two years, my company is very well established in the market. We have more than 20 coaches. We are operating in two main locations and we are about to open the third very soon. We are also training professional athletes like Karim Abdel-Gawad, who won the Egypt championship for squash, and Nour Al-Tayeb, a squash player who was ranked number 14 on the national level. Now she is ranked third,” Ismail explained at the conference. 

“I believe that if you have a dream and you believe in it, even if others do not believe in this dream your hard work will pay off and you will reach your goals. Simply, the sky is the limit,” Ismail said.  

WRONG IDEAS ABOUT ART: “Four years ago, I was working as creative director at one of the biggest companies in Dubai. At a certain point, I decided to find a new career path that I always had a passion for, music,” said Hisham Kharma, a composer and founder of the Kharma Group.

“Ever since I was nine years old, I used to play music. It was my hobby, but when I grew up I was faced with socially pressuring statements that said that music should only ever be a hobby and that it could not be a profession. Unfortunately, I let those words sink into my belief system, and I only did music at the talent shows at the AUC,” Kharma said.

Kharma majored in computer science, though he eventually worked with his major only for one year. “Creativity and art were always after me. I decided to work in advertising, and I stayed in it for 14 years.” However, though this was a stable career, Kharma did not feel satisfied. His passion for music, which he had tried to tame for years, was constantly at the back of his mind. 

“In 2011, following the 25 January Revolution I flew to Dubai as I had a very attractive offer in the advertising field,” he said, adding that the trip turned out to be a turning point in his life. He attended a concert by the famous singer Yani, “and then I realised that I would never be able to escape my passion for music. I had to decide either to continue in my stable, financially rewarding job, or start a new path in music. I chose the latter,” Kharma said.

“I went back to Egypt and started to release some singles and had my first trial CD. After that, I got a good offer from an international music company. I was assigned to contribute to a project that promoted music from Egypt, India and Turkey for release worldwide.” 

At that time, Kharma realised that he was on the right track. “Following that, I released my second CD called ‘Al-Yakin’, and it was a hit. More recently, I have had the chance to cooperate with the famous composer Omar Khairat, and I have held a lot of concerts inside and outside Cairo.” 

He has also contributed through his music to promoting causes such as the fight against cancer, and he composed the music for the Ahl Masr Hospital on treating burns. 

“I realised that music empowered me, and that it empowered many people around me. I realised that no matter how much you try to run away from your passion, it will always chase you, and if you do not work for it, you might regret it later on. So, follow your passion, follow your dreams, and just never give up,” Kharma said.   


A HERO IS BORN: Yehia Kandil is an athlete who has qualified for the world swimming championships in 2019. 

The decision behind his unique story was taken by his whole family, and it reflects the deepest meaning of persistence and bravery. The story of Kandil was presented at the TEDx conference by his brother Mustafa Kandil.

“The story started when my younger brother was born and was diagnosed with Downs Syndrome. I was almost seven years old at time and did not understand what this meant,” said Kandil, who works in the Dentistry Department at New Giza University. 

Almost two years after his birth, Yehia underwent an open-heart operation as his condition was critical. “Though my brother had Downs Syndrome, we as a family decided to live as normal a life as possible. After his heart condition was better, my brother joined a nursery, and we started to have fun like any other family,” Kandil said.

“Practising sports was always at the top of our to-do list, but when it came to Yehia we were quite hesitant because of his medical condition,” he added. However, Yehia was persistent and always ready to compete with peers. He joined a swimming club and surprisingly also one for horseback riding, though it was a challenge for Yehia to be able to control a strong creature like a horse. He was successful, however, and he won a national championship for horseback riding in 2012.

Yehia exceeded in swimming as well. “Six years ago, we were all dreaming that Yehia would qualify for the national championships in swimming, but our main challenge was his medical condition, and we thought he thought he would be categorised as disabled. However, his persistence has meant that he has won 36 medals at national and international swimming championships over the past six years,” Kandil said. 

In 2016, Yehia travelled to South Africa to participate in the world swimming championships. He was only 16 years old and was one of the youngest participants. He was also among the top 20 winners. He has now qualified for the world swimming championships in 2019. He is also finishing up his SAT exams and is getting ready to go to university. 

“I would say that Yehia’s accomplishments took a lot of dedication and persistence. He is an extremely committed person and systematic as well, which in my opinion will make him very qualified to join the professional field he chooses after finishing his university degree,” Kandil concluded.

add comment

  • follow us on