So I have left Cairo for the last time on this trip, spending an additional week there after returning from Sudan. Like Sudan, I am considering writing a short analysis of the country from my experiences, but I am still not sure if I should, and if I do, if I should post it. The reason for my uncertainty lies both in the fact that while running a non-profit that is explicitly non-political, if there is a viable way for me to comment on these countries without making political statements. I mean I do have political opinions personally, but I wonder if my own expression could create false assumptions about World Faith, whose leadership are as politically diverse as they are religiously. Also, certain countries I am openly critical of, but it seems potentially problematic if I criticize a nation’s government that we as an organization are working in, especially in a place like Egypt where civil liberties are diminishing if existent. More to come as I decide.
However, World Faith Cairo is born, and interesting is growing much faster there than we ever had in New York the first month. We did we get a group of young people legitimately interesting in leading the chapter, with the awesome assistance of Catherine Manfre, an NYU alumnus, who is World Faith’s Regional Director of Egypt. But even better is we got connected to some of the movers and shakers of Cairo. Including that of Dr. Barbara Harrell-Bond.
“Dr. Harrell-Bond is an institution,” her future replacement said, referring to her clout in the international refugee aid world. Michael Hellen-Chu, a friend of mine who works at the UN on the Darfur political solutions team, informed me of her intense behavour and her immense knowledge in the field. Catherine set up some meetings, of which I wasn’t prepped for before. All the sudden I was sitting face to face with Dr. Harrell-Bond. She is about to retire in two weeks, and for some reason she dug our approach, and essentially dragged me to all her meetings and introduced us to several organizations in Cairo.
After meeting with her and everyone else, Catherine and those working with her decided that the best way to kick off World Faith Cairo was through a language exchange between English speaking study-abroad students and Iraqi refugees, who are over 100,000 numbers in Cairo. So our chapter will likely not just be based on Coptic-Muslim division, but also be able to challenge West-Arab relations, and Egyptian-Iraqi relations. I am stoked to see what comes of it.
Now I am in Amman, where I originally intended on relaxing. However, after meeting several people in interfaith, I sort of slipped into World Faith mode and now we are exploring to see if a chapter is a possibility here. Someone wants to introduce me to Prince Hassan, who is very active in the interfaith works here, so we will see what comes of it. Until then, pray that we find some funding so that I can actually continue this fulltime!