The point of technological advance and the convenience of Social Media is to connect people all over the world to each other. Tell me why then have we become more disconnected, isolated and self involved than ever?
While we are busy taking selfies, stressing over the new episode of Game of Thrones, lamenting the shortage of Marassi passes, we forget to be grateful for the abundance of blessings we have.
For Mariam, a working mother from Maghagha, Minya, the only luxury she can afford is sending her four young children to school. Her oldest is in grade five, and so we wondered how she manages them and what difficulties she faces.
“It was the worst day of my life. I always knew those power lines were a hazard but I couldn’t keep watch over the children all the time”
It all started last year, when her youngest boy went out to play. Because they are living on the outskirts of the village, they are surrounded by fields with huge power lines that generate electricity for the entire place, “my boy never made it home that day”, she says, “he played too close to the power lines and was electrocuted as a result. It was the worst day of my life. I always knew those power lines were a hazard but I couldn’t keep watch over the children all the time”. And as if this was not enough, her husband was arrested and sent to prison a few months after that.
“I couldn’t afford to stop until it was too late, and I lost my sight altogether”
With her husband gone, raising the kids all by herself was not going to be easy, with the loss of her youngest child still so fresh. Mariam knew that she had to focus on work if they were to survive. Working as a seamstress required a lot of focus and attention to details, “my eyesight suffered as a consequence of my long working hours”, she tells, “I couldn’t afford to stop until it was too late, and I lost my sight altogether”. As she said this she broke down, crying for the first time since the beginning of the interview. Heart aching for her, I asked her why she was crying knowing full well the terrible answer to this question. It appeared to me there was nothing to do but cry at this point of the story. Her answer came as a surprise, however, she was crying only because she wouldn’t be able to read anymore. Reading about God’s love was the only comfort and joy she had in her darkest days and that was all over.
“I don’t know how it will turn out, but my children’s education is my priority”
Not all hope is lost, though, when asked about the future, she smiled, “I don’t know how it will turn out, but my children’s education is my priority”, she states proudly. Her oldest boy is top of his class. She dreams that now that she lost her sight, he would read to her instead, to bring comfort to her heart. Rejecting any financial help from us, her only request was to buy undergarments for her children so they can celebrate Eid without feeling any embarrassment.
For a woman with virtually nothing except loss and suffering, Mariam is a true model of Upper Egyptian simplicity and inspiration. She is a survivor and a lesson for us all.