|Standing with Hagag and his family.|
|Front of Hagag's house|
The three weeks I spent in Luxor taught me lessons of love. Hagag and Abu'l Ezz and their families showed me such kindness and affection that I felt special. By American standards they are very poor—without goods or means. One a marginal farmer and the other with a motorboat taking people between the banks of the Nile River. Their homes are of earth, they live with animals, have the barest conveniences and share one toilet for the entire household. They do not have closets full of clothes or new gadgets. What they have is sincerity and goodness that reached deep into my soul. They know I am comfortable in their surroundings. I need nothing more than the love that lives within them and their families.
|Drawing made by Iyah, 12, Hagag's 2nd daughter. It is me, and she included my camera bag |
over my shoulder and cell phone in my pocket.
Hagag’s oldest son Mohammad is serving in the army because the family could not afford college. Now Amira, the oldest daughter is on the verge of graduating secondary school. I photographed his home to begin a funding campaign. When I asked Hagag about sleeping arrangements he pointed to the tiny room in front that held two divans with cushions. All four of his children sleep in a room about the size of an American walk-in closet. It has one window facing the front courtyard. The floor is earth. I thought of Amira, 17, sleeping with her sister and two brothers so close. “Amira sleeps on the earth, here,” he said, pulling out a straw mat and showing how it went over the ground.
I have watched Amira many times studying with her face in books, or helping prepare meals, or speaking a little English with me. She is thoughtful and with hope—not scarred from never knowing the comfort of a bed and room of her own. Rather, she is strong and can meet life’s tests. What will hurt her is diminished opportunities as she becomes an adult. Her talents must flourish.
My friends know I will be by their side as they have been by mine.
|Nile River at dawn.|
“So powerful is the light of unity that it can illumine the whole world.” -Baha’u’llah