That’s what our 10 Sharjah Women’s college students said with a real sense of achievement upon returning to the UAE from a 9-day visit to Egypt.
The students, accompanied by two teachers Basel Badran and Eman Zabalawi, were volunteers for Habitat for Humanity’s global village build project.
With the build project scheduled to start on Monday, the Sharjah team having arrived on Thursday, January 21st, spent two days in Cairo following a busy sightseeing program. On Friday the team enjoyed a guided tour to the pyramids in Giza, Dahanshour & Saqara. While our guide briefed us on a very interesting Egyptian history, Pharaoh Dynasties and how the pyramids were built, our students became more inquisitive asking him one question after the other. Later on Wafa, Shayma & Mr. Basel decided to dare themselves and enter one of the pyramids .an experience they’ll never forget! Attending the Light & Sound Show that cold evening next to the Sphinx was very entertaining and educational at the same time.
The next day proved to be as eventful as the first day when the team headed to the Egyptian Museum. Seeing thousands of well preserved and amazing artifacts from the Paranoiac civilization; the girls felt time stood still during their two hours in the museum.
The two highlights during that visit were visiting the Mummies Hall and last but not least the treasures of King Tut-ankh-amun. Next, the team visited the Pharaonic Village. A living museum located on an island in the Nile in Cairo where Egypt’s history, culture and art come alive.
Sitting on a Nile ferry, the students listened to synchronized recording describing different aspects of Egyptian daily life enacted by people on the island depicting life in Egypt when the Pharaohs ruled like Gods.
Finally, the team enjoyed a dinner cruise on the Nile as they bid farewell to Cairo before heading to the build site the next day.
After returning from Beni Suef, and hours before our flight, we visited the famous Khan El Khaleeli bazaar for some souvenirs & gift shopping.
Monday morning we met Ms Christine, Carolyne & Ashraf from Habitat Egypt and boarded their bus heading south towards Beni Suef.
After a 3-hour journey, we checked in our hotel and got ready for dinner, which was followed by an orientation session by Habitat’s Coordinator, Christine on what to expect in the build sites but more importantly, what was expected of us as volunteers. The plan was to visit two villages and participate in building four homes.
Therefore, it was decided that we’d split into two teams, six each, to work at different homes for the next four days.
At each village, we first visited the local committee whom Habitat supported and worked with. We were given a presentation on their efforts to help the villagers with either a loan to build their own homes or help them start a small business. Wherever we travelled, deep into Egypt’s countryside especially with our armed police escort- we felt like celebrities and very welcomed by the villagers, their children and even their livestock!
We spent a lot of time on the bus each day that’s a fact. We travelled one hour to the village & another back to our hotel daily. Nevertheless, our students never complained. Each day, they’d be up by 7:00am, have breakfast at 7:30, & on the bus by 8:30 looking forward to their daily adventure and hard work in, probably, a different build site or a new village. Once we got to the village, we split into teams, pick up our tools & head to our build sites on foot. The girls did a variety of construction jobs which included; sifting a lot of sand & moving it to another location, clearing the resulting gravel piles, spraying cement on brick walls, moving red bricks to the second floor & piling it, as well as sanding plastered walls in preparation for a paint job. Two girls even tried their luck at plastering a wall.
As another colleague who travelled to the Philippines Habitat said, it was a life changing experience for our students. Wherever the girls went, whoever they met, and whatever hard labor they did, they did it with passion, modesty, & a spirit of caring. They make their parents, their teachers and their country, very proud.
Here are few extracts of what some of the students had to say about their Habitat Egypt experience:
“I learned how to work with a group, patience, how houses are built, help poor people to achieve their dreams.” Wafaa Lashkaran
“I felt excited, because I traveled alone without my family and also learnt how to take care of myself while helping other in need.” Abrar Ahmed
“I learnt many things like team work, time management, and leader ship skills as well as organization.” Anoud Abu Muhair
“I learnt about Egypt history, building materials, how to work in a team and how to organize my time.” Madawi Al Wahni