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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hope and Help in Egypt

IRUSA communications specialist Reem El-Khatib offers a first-hand account from the field in Egypt about ongoing programs supported by IRUSA in the region. Below is the first in a series of day-to-day posts of her experiences.

June 25-26

The anxiety of what a trip to Egypt would be like now—in a post-revolutionary era, at a time where Egyptians of all backgrounds, ages, religions, classes stood together to demand better living conditions—set in when I first realized that I would be traveling to Egypt for Islamic Relief USA. I had never been to Egypt before, and while I have traveled to many parts of the world, I've never traveled internationally on the behalf of an organization.

Creative director Ridwan Adhami and I have joined several Islamic Relief USA executives to see first-hand how IRUSA programs continue to help improve the living conditions for Egyptians throughout the country. When we first exited the airport late night June 25, we both took a deep gulp of Egyptian breeze and almost simultaneously said, "This feels like when I go home" (home for me being Palestine and for Ridwan being Syria). Tonight, Umm ad-Dunya resonated with both of us as just that.

The Egyptian night breeze, the hustle and bustle of honking horns and jay-walking pedestrians—feels so beautifully familiar, yet, also surreal. I told Mohammed, who picked us up from the airport, that I had been glued to a TV screen for months watching the events unfold earlier this year and "That's the Egyptian Museum!" and "Now, we're driving on the Oct. 6 Bridge!"

I asked Mohammed, who also works with Islamic Relief in Egypt, how now is different than then—before the revolution started on Jan. 25. Quite simply, he said, we are now comfortable in mind and we have hope. He assured me that Egyptians are not disillusioned and do not think that everything is fixed and perfect. They know and we know there is much to do—and the Islamic Relief programs we are preparing to see in the following days are evidence of that. But, overall, there is a pure, comfortable hope that progress is being and will soon be made.

Ahmed, an extremely accommodating hotel host, offered a similar note, as he helped us secure our rooms for the night—he said that relief organizations were seemingly strengthening their programs here and visiting more often to help more. He had heard "Islamic Relief" a lot in the past few days, and he was happy to welcome more of its staff.

Now, settled in for the evening, I look out at the Cairo night at 2:15 am July 26 ... I see the hilal hanging in the sky and I ask ALLAH (swt) to watch over and protect Ridwan, Mohammed, Ahmed and everyone I interact with during my time here; I ask for protection for all of the Islamic Relief community who supports IRUSA programs in Egypt and elsewhere; I pray for the protection for all of the wonderful Egyptians who work in the field with or receive assistance from Islamic Relief—I pray and feel the Cairo night pulsing with horns and hope.

Insha'Allah, I'll keep you posted on more news from Egypt—with special regard to our food distribution and therapy programs—in coming days. May ALLAH (swt) accept your good deeds always, and may all of Egypt's warm, welcoming and good people sleep a sound and hope-filled night.

Tisba7o 3ala khair.

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