Diary of a ConnectAID Community Advocate after a trip to Egypt, January 2020.
"Today, with the coronavirus, we are living a very difficult time: so many deaths, so much suffering, the economy is upside down. Now imagine the consequences of the pandemic on the most vulnerable populations", said Gaëlle Mogli, founder of ConnectAID, the International Solidarity Network, during one of her interviews.
For several months now, I have been volunteering as a Community Advocate for ConnectAID, a combined humanitarian social impact network and philanthropic platform. During my trip to Egypt in early 2021, I was able to see with my own eyes the reality of the increase in global poverty, which resonated with me everywhere I went.
When we arrived at the airport in Cairo, we had the pleasure of meeting our guide Gihane, who learned French from nuns when she was a child.
Very quickly, we became enamoured with this woman who, behind her smiles, hid the harsh reality that the Egyptians were living in due to the pandemic; she was a victim of the impact COVID-19 has had on tourism.
Working for 15 years as an Egyptian guide, she went from working 3 days a week to 5 days for the whole year of 2020. Having 2 children, and with no help from the state, it was hard to imagine how she managed to cope.
"The pyramids of Giza have gone from 7000 visits a day to 800, when we are lucky" says Gihane, a real disaster for tourism.
After having discussed with her the situation in Egypt over a mint tea, we set off again towards the Great Pyramids of Giza.
Once we arrived at the pyramid of Khufu, and without having the time to realize that we were in front of one of the 7 wonders of the world, several silhouettes approached us. They were tourist guides, taxis, and souvenir sellers.
The same words could be heard from everyone's mouth, this time with a real touch of despair: "best price, come with me, please we make the best price for you. Please...".
At first we felt suffocated by the crowd, then empathy took over, and finally powerlessness.
It broke my heart to be stood in front of these pharaonic wonders and at the same time be surrounded by such suffering and distress.
This is the reality for these few Egyptians. And now, try to imagine the situation for the families living in extreme poverty in Rwanda, India, the orphans in Burkina Faso, Cambodia and other countries, the poorest in Tanzania, Myanmar...
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By Manon Bical, ConnectAID Community Advocate