I always used to say…

Hossam Hashish (Egypt, Pearson UWC 2009 – 2011)

I always used to say “I’m Hossam from Egypt”, but I never used to think about it in-depth. I didn’t know what I should feel when I said it.

Egypt was always considered as a country that had a great history 4000 years ago. People say “Egypt: they have pyramids, they have a really old history, and they have a really good foundation”, but when Egyptians think about this, they know that that was all in the past and we have to start building a future. Nobody knew how. Nobody knew where to start. At some point everybody lost hope. Every day we see our country sinking more and more into corruption, debt and dishonesty. Day after day, the people’s interest in the country decreases and their interest in themselves increase. The rich sector is thinking about how to increase their wealth and the poor sector is thinking about how to get enough money today to be able to feed their children. Egyptians didn’t lose their sense of patriotism by choice. Life became hard and it was hard to stay alive and help their family through the day.

Unfortunately, what brought the country down were its own leaders. They tell the people that Egypt is a democratic country and you get to vote and to choose your very own futures. People believed these leaders and voted, but what they didn’t know was that even though they vote, the one who wins is not necessarily the one who gets the most votes, but the one that the government wants to have. People knew about it but they didn’t know how to change it – or maybe the truth is that they didn’t care much. The people had this idea that the one who gets involved in politics always gets in trouble and no one wants trouble.

Day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year the country stayed the way it was. The condition of the country went to its worst degree, with the most damaged part being its economy. Inflation rate was increasing, the unemployment rate was increasing and the wages weren’t enough for the people to survive.

At a point everybody was ready to explode but they needed a trigger. On one of the social networks, facebook, youth started the fire. And as soon as a little flame started it set the whole country on fire. Everybody went out to the streets and said “NO”. First when I heard about the protests, I thought to myself that this one will be like all of the other past protests. It will go on for a few hours and then people will lose hope and give up. I had no hope and I was waiting for it to end. Day after day protesters stood their ground, and more people were joining every day. I was thinking: is this really happening? Do the people know how much power they have? It started to become really serious; no president or army could stop it. I felt bad that I wasn’t right their doing my best to help them, but I was proud of them.

The amount of resistance I witnessed in my people made me think about how much this means to them and how much they really needed this to happen. Pictures of protesters filled the internet, and I saw a lot of videos. I felt like I was right there with them saying “NO” to corruption. I felt good, really good. I was waiting exactly like them. Waiting to write the new history – the history that matters. The three weeks we waited felt like three years. But when it happened I couldn’t think of anything except how great it is to be an Egyptian.

Now I say I’m Hossam from Egypt. And I feel proud. Proud to be an Egyptian.

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