Tag Archives: unemployment

I Love Egypt’s Revolution

How can you not love a Revolution wherein a human chain forms to protect its museums and priceless antiquities?  A mob that thinks to maintain its history and culture, even in their anger and confusion?

How do you not love revolutionaries who form a citizen police force, because they don’t want looters or violence and their government has abandoned them and their safety?

How is it possible for your heart not to ache for the Christians who are human shields to protect their Muslim countrymen while in prayer, repaying a favor from Christmas Eve of this past year?

I think this revolution is beautiful.  People keep asking me, who are the good guys?  Isn’t Mubarak better than the Muslim Brotherhood?  Is it safe over there?  These people are the good guys; the people who protect their countrymen, their history and their homes.  These people who want real democracy because their “president” has not left office in 30 years.

Mubarak isn’t better than the Ikhwan, or Muslim Brotherhood.  But that’s irrelevant, because MB didn’t organize this, and they don’t want to come to power.  This was organized in what was once a small facebook group, by students on twitter, by men smoking hookah in cafes, and by women bringing their children to school.

This isn’t about religion or extremism or fundamentalism or Islamism or hating America or being lazy or getting violent.  This is about food shortages and housing shortages and high unemployment and constantly being watched and martial law and slaughtering the pigs and a guy with an AK on every street corner.  This is about opposing to all of that peacefully and in great unity, about tahrir fee Tahrir: Liberation in Liberation Square.

This is quite possibly the most graceful and glorious revolution of our time, and we have the privilege to watch it on tv, hear the cries of the people on the radio, and read about it across all forms of the internet.  And I don’t just think it’s a privilege, I think it is an obligation.  I feel obligated to spread anything I learn, and to pay even more attention every time the internet is turned off.

I hope you will join me.

¿Después de la Victoria? Siempre.

Every Cuban we meet tells us they’re going to America.  They say they will come visit, they’re excited for their freedom.  As one young man told me, the price of my happiness is an American passport.  But what then?  They tell me, in America, no one will give them trouble just for being black. They tell me they will always have enough food to eat, and their children will get to drink as much milk as they need.  They will be able to find a good job and make money, as long as they work hard. 

Their naïve hope reminds me of just how far our country has left to come.

There is such an intense focus on this goal for so many people here.  For most of them, it’s America.  For others, it’s somewhere in Europe.  People talk about it, plan for it, take English lessons, enter lotteries and apply for scholarships.  I worry for a lot of the Cubans we meet here.  They tell me how everything will be fine once they go to America.

But what about when you get what you’ve always wanted, whether that’s a revolution, an American passport or your freedom?  Will you be like the slave in La Última Cena, and sit back down with the master because you’ve been so thoroughly institutionalized that you don’t know what else to do?  Or will you be like Fidel, and let in tourism and cozy up to the USSR because in politics you need more than just ideals, and you simply can’t see another way to keep everyone fed and happy?

What do you do with yourself, with your country, once you get everything you’ve always wanted?

Nahdet Mahrousa

We visited an incubator NGO (non-Governmental Organization) within Egypt, called Nahdet Mahrousa (Renaissance of Egypt) a few weeks ago.  The incubator selects possible projects and helps them turn into full-fledged, self-sustaining NGOs that are independent financially and otherwise. NM promotes better standards of health and education, as well as tolerance, employment, financial independence and dignity.  They’re a homegrown group of diverse Egyptians who wanted to help combat the infant mortality rates, high unemployment and brain drain that have been such a problem for Egypt.

NM provides legal assistance, research, HR, funding, branding and PR advice, training and project development ideas.  Some of the NGOs they have helped get off the ground include the Young Innovators Award (YIA), which awards Egyptian high schoolers with the funding to carry our their innovative ideas.  This is an attempt to promote more science and technology in Egypt, and often helps the students land jobs with companies that want to buy their innovations.  Another NGO hey helped create was CEDO, a group that has put career services offices in all the public universities of Egypt.  Previously, only wealthy students who could afford to go to private universities got the kind of career advice that comes standard with a college education in the US.  Now, students who never took a university-level english class can have help going over their resume, or preparing for an interview.

Marisa–you’d be so proud of me!  I networked my little tush off!  I got a few business cards and they said I can send my resume to them for the next coop cycle (sorry mom!).  It would be unpaid but phenomenal, and I absolutely need to find a way to get back here, so we’ll see how that goes.  I would absolutely LOVE to work with them, but so far my Arabic isn’t quite good enough.

What’s amazing is that NM just now (after five years) hired their first PR person for their own organization.  They explain their success (and constant interview requests) by saying that, “good news travels fast.”  I can’t help but thinking that wouldn’t exactly be the case in the US.  But then again, in a country where so few people are (effectively) tackling unspoken issues, a group that dedicates itself to just that must stand out.