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Friday, July 1, 2011

IRUSA Team Bids Farewell To "Umm Al-dunia"

IRUSA Communications Specialist Reem El-Khatib sends us some final words from last days in Egypt.

June 30-July 1, Al-Ayyat, Egypt -- I'm ending my trip to Egypt, where and when I started it: around 3 a.m., overlooking a bustling Cairo. The few days that IRUSA has spent in Egypt has been absolutely amazing, between meeting with various ministries and other NGOs, to connecting with the wonderful staff at Islamic Relief Egypt, (shout out to Rasha, Marwa, Hind, Iman, Dr. Yousef, Dr. Khaled, and many more), but absolutely nothing can top meeting the exceptional people of Egypt, including those who have received assistance from Islamic Relief programs.

Our final day in Egypt was spent in Al-Ayyat. It’s an area about 30 minutes outside of Cairo, and its poor are considered among the poorest. A region that relies heavily on agriculture, we learned that about 95% of Al-Ayyat's women work to clean okra so that it can be sold to manufacturers. For many families, this is a primary source of income.

Today, Islamic Relief was able to distribute 50 food parcels, packed with rice, macaroni, dried yogurt, cooking oil, lentils, rice and more to families in Al-Ayyat. One-by-one, women lined up to receive the parcels, placing the largest boxes on their heads; warmly thanking the staff; and exiting with their heads and food packages held high. Amira, a girl of about 12 years old, was one of many who patiently waited in line to receive a food parcel for her family. Another young girl, Rasha, was concerned she would not be able to carry the heavy parcel. Amira reassured her that she could, and she did, the two smiling as they returned home with their food parcels.

This exemplifies the wonderful spirit of the Egyptian people, wherever they are found. Everyone we have encountered, no matter what their particular circumstances, has been extremely warm and gracious, much like the beautiful breeze that is flowing into my room as I write this.

IRUSA was also able to spend lots of quality time with a Christian family in Al-Ayyat's Beedif district who have been receiving assistance from Islamic Relief for quite some time, and received a food parcel with today's distribution.

"We are all one," said Wahid Malak Abdel-Shahid, "Islamic Relief is our family...and our family is their family."

Yes, that's right. Al hamdulilah. A hearty "ma3 il salama," Egypt. -- We certainly know now that you are "umm al-dunia."

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