1. People from the Viva Palestina convoy have arrived in Egypt! And what an amazing sight it is to have approximately 200 people from all across the United States coming together for one cause- Breaking the Siege on Gaza. However, while the atmosphere between our comrades on the convoy is amazing, the Egyptian Authorities aren't as friendly, and the country isn't quite as glorious as the tourist companies makes it seem.
Although we weren't expecting much less, the treatment we received upon our arrival from the authorities wasn't the best way to be greeted into a foreign country. As soon as we exited the airplane we had a bunch of men in white police uniform surrounding us attempting to inquire on our journey. They kept asking us questions and even began searching our luggage, until the President of the security team came over and put a halt on the inspection to welcome us and allowed us to go to the bus awaiting us out side. It seemed as if everywhere we went we had some sort of police escort, which we thought was for our safety. However, the Police were only following us and escorting us to keep tabs on what we're doing at all times.
While walking down the streets of Giza with our police escorts, the immense poverty cannot be hidden. Every block has five to six older men and women sitting on the floor, often times with their children, selling any and everything from fruits to cigarettes in order to merely survive. Upon taking a breath of the Cairo air, the fumes and pollution of the city left us at times breathless. Dirt, sand, and debris infested the streets we walked on. Crossing the street, however, was by far the most difficult task. A stream of speeding cars, who won't stop for anything, kept coming down the highway forcing us to literally walk inches in front of them with our hands in the air gesturing for them to please stop.
Despite the few negative attributes of the country, for instance the police badgering and the non-stop traffic jam, the people of Egypt remain a breath of fresh air with their support and positive attitude towards our mission and convoy to Gaza.
2. The Viva Palestina convoy is preparing to leave Giza, Egypt for Al A'areesh this Friday!
Things got off to a bit of a slow start, but throughout the past couple of days here in Egypt we have met some people who will forever live in our memories.
Walking down the streets of Giza, with our Al-Awda "Falasteen" shirts, we are constantly being stopped by pedestrians who want to greet us and tell us how much they love Palestine. People from all over the streets began screaming "We Love Palestine!" One man in particular stopped a few of us and stated that every time he prays, the first thing he prays for is Palestine, And how as he prays for Palestine he can't help but cry. It seems as though most of the people we have come across don't support the actions of the Egyptian government when it comes to Palestine, and are so appreciative and grateful for our mission.
While we vividly remember all of the people we've met, one man stands out in particular. A group of us were heading to the Nile River to have some dinner, so we stopped a cab. Our driver, Abdullah, was a very friendly man. While we played music on our phones he was singing along, and then a song about Palestine came up. He then explained to us his story, which was an extremely emotional one. Abdullah was from Palestine 1948 territories, and got kicked out into Gaza at gunpoint, leaving everything behind. A few years later, he got kicked out of Gaza into al A'areesh, and then got kicked out of al A'areesh and ended up in Giza. He was 5 years old when he moved to Cairo and told us of his deceased father's war stories in Palestine as well as Egypt in the mid to late 60s. He witnessed the murder of numerous friends and family throughout his early childhood years. He agreed to tell his story on camera, which left us all in tears and at a loss for words by the time he finished. Abdullah's personal history truly grounded us and reminded us that the issue of Palestine and the injustices faced by its people are not to be looked at as the bigger issue, but remembering that there are tons of Abdullah's all across the world. Abdullah's story reminded us why our mission is so crucial, and so important. And that every step we take in the struggle, we should always keep in mind the millions of Abdullahs there are in the world.
As we prepare to embark on a significant journey into Gaza, our stay in Egypt thus far has left us with tons of memories and stories that we weren't expecting to hear or find in Egypt. They have left us with a lifelong appreciation and determination to work for all the Abdullahs in the world.