Written and interviewed in mid-June, 2011.
As he drove me through the streets of Cairo, my driver, Ahmed Mohamed Hassan, shared with me his thoughts and hopes for Egypt. He kept saying that it was ‘simply a dream,’ but his ‘dream’ for Egypt is a dream that all of us have.
Ahmed’s voice cracked with emotion as he asked me over and over again why no one had proposed simple projects to help change the economic and social problems in Egypt. Much of his frustration was aimed at the political parties that seemed to be grabbing at power already. “We are sick of discussions. Look at what the discussion has lead to; nothing really,” he said in frustration. He kept on saying that the country needed the political parties to actually present real and tangible projects for development.
“Why is it that all these new political parties haven’t proposed new projects?” He told me an idea he had of a project that would help Egypt. “If you took one pound from every citizen per month, you would have 85 million EGP each month. Just imagine what you can do with that money?” He said that each month this money would be donated to one governorate, and could work miracles. And then the next month the next 85 million would be sent to another governorate. “Or we could solve our wheat problem. Why are we importing wheat when we used to be exporters of wheat to other nations? Jacob and his family went to Egypt to avoid famine,” he said as he recalled the well-known story of Joseph recounted both in the Quran and the Bible. He said that the 85 million pounds that came from the ‘one-pound campaign’ could plant wheat farms in between the cities of Cairo and Ismailia, hire farmers, and one day Egypt could even export wheat again. Even more importantly these new projects and farms would help put a dent the unemployment problem. He went on to say that each Egyptian would go to sleep at peace knowing that it was his pound that would feed him bread the next day; that it was her pound that would help a young man find a job.
Hassan also discussed Parliament with me. “Who cares if the Parliament is 50% farmer and 50% worker? We want a Parliament who is held responsible for their actions and that at the end of each year they have to report their accomplishments.”
He kept on saying that we should not wait for the government to do anything. In regards to the stolen money that will be returned from the corrupt officials, Hassan said, “the people think that the government will line them up and hand them money. They won’t.”
He ended by saying over and over again that he wanted to know that one day his daughter could walk in the streets without being harassed, and that his son would not have to be crammed into over crowded public transportation. “Oksom belallah! Ana baheb baladi. [I swear by God, I love my country],” he said passionately, “We need to all help each other. I just want to see things get better. I want to see our dreams come true. This is simply a dream.”