Thursday, February 24, 2011

Foreigners in Cairo: Those who stayed and those who are returning

As you've seen from my other blog entries, I've been working on interviewing people from different backgrounds about the 18 days of Egypt's revolution.  This entry is the first of a couple dealing with what happened with foreigners living in Egypt when the revolution broke out.

The decision whether or not to leave Cairo when the U.S. Embassy was recommending all Americans evacuate (and other embassies were doing the same) was not an easy one to make.  For some people, like Fullbright scholars, 'non-essential' U.S. Embassy staff, and many people working with foreign companies, their jobs required them to evacuate, sometimes on very little notice.   Soon after January 28, we were discovering one friend after another was leaving.  I called the Turkish woman from my Arabic class to see how she was doing and she said she was at the airport, about to leave.  A day or two later, I called a Ugandan woman from my Arabic class and discovered her cell phone was shut off.  She later emailed to say she'd had to leave with very little warning so just had time to pack and get to the airport.

After a couple weeks, about half our foreign friends had left.  I remember being worried about running out of cell phone minutes (since for a couple weeks no stores had cell phone cards to put more minutes on your phone).  But as I scrolled down through my cell-phone directory, I realized half the people listed in my cell phone had left the country so I probably didn't need so many cell phone minutes.

Jeff and I decided to stay in Cairo because we felt were safe in our community (Maadi) which is more than a half hour train ride from Cairo's Tahrir Square.  We also wanted to stay to be in solidarity with the Egyptian people.  Our community, Maadi, has a high expatriot population (or it did before January 25) so businesses depend heavily on foreigners.  We have had many business owners, and ordinary Egyptians we pass in the street, say "We're glad you're here."  This blog entry will feature some foreigners who stayed in Cairo during the 18 day revolution and those who left, often because they were required to do so.

Here's a video of our first two friends to return to Cairo last week.
Here's the link to that video:

Here's a video of someone who stayed in Cairo and had an experience similar to some journalists:
Here's the link to this video if you have trouble viewing it on this blog:

This next video is of a man who told inspiring stories about his experiences with his neighborhood watch group during the week when things were the most challenging in Cairo.

Here's the link to this video:

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