Perspectives of Egypt from Kamloops eyes
As the unrest in Egypt enters its third week, there are two Kamloops residents closely watching the events unfold.
Though the two have never met, they both have deep ties to the Middle Eastern country.
Larry Boss, senior pastor of Kamloops Alliance Church, led a congregation in Maadi, a suburb of Cairo, for five years before returning to Canada three years ago.
He’s shattered by the events taking place on the ground — a place he used to call home.
“I’d give anything to be there,” Boss told KTW.
Since the uprising began almost two weeks ago, he’s been checking his phone and social-media sites like Facebook, desperate for news and messages from friends and other pastors still in Egypt.
However, Boss said, reports by the media aren’t giving the entire picture.
Besides the rallies and clashes in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, Boss has heard much of the fighting is sporadic, noting many communities in the city and elsewhere in the country have come together during the crisis.
“They don’t want anything more than you and I want,” he said of the Egyptian people.
Though Boss suggested more freedom is necessary for the people in the country, he said a quick exit by Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak would be a disaster.
Boss believes a controlled changeover would be best for the country.
He hopes to return to Egypt one day to see the changes he believes are coming.
Meanwhile, Heather Murdoch, who lived and taught at a school in Maadi for two years before returning to Kamloops this past summer, is also heartbroken over the events in Egypt.
She said she can’t help but think of the people she got to know during her stay — including her landlord, who was like a mom to her — and storekeepers she would pass in the streets.
Murdoch said contact between her friends in Egypt has been sparse, as the Internet and social-media sites are routinely shut down.
“I’m sick thinking what has happened to these people,” she said, adding watching from afar has only added to her frustration because she feels powerless to help.
However, Murdoch, who is the head of the drama department at the Beattie School of the Arts, is happy the Egyptian people have decided to rise up against Mubarak and what she calls a “dictatorship.”
“Nobody is saying things that aren’t untrue,” she said of the Egyptian government’s oppressive nature.
Murdoch said many Egyptians live in fear and abject poverty, noting her time in the country has changed her world view.
But, she also noted the issues dividing the country can’t be viewed in black-and-white terms.
Though Boss and Murdoch slightly differ on their view on just what should happen next in Egypt, they are both praying for a peaceful solution to the unrest in a country that remains close to their hearts.
Elsewhere in Kamloops, Heather Griffiths is relieved to be home and getting on with her daily routine.
A little over a week ago, her routine was anything but normal as she and husband Kraig were desperate to get out of Egypt — a country imploding right before the couple’s eyes.
“It was terrifying, actually,” Griffiths said of her two-day stay in the Middle Eastern country before fleeing on one of the first planes out arranged by the Canadian embassy.
After enjoying a safari adventure, the Griffiths landed in Cairo on Jan. 29 — the day after the uprising began in Egypt.
They were expected to depart for a 15-day tour of the country the next day, but it quickly became apparent those plans would have to be abandoned.
Griffiths said she wasn’t too concerned the first night in Cairo but, by morning, the couple was told to pack their bags.
It was no longer safe for them to stay at their hotel.
Their tour guide took them back to the airport, but it — and the country — was in a state of chaos.
There were no flights out.
The Griffiths were then taken to a different hotel, one they were told would be safer.
However, their stay was even more frightening as gunshots rang out through the night.
Griffiths said she and her husband spent the night sleeping on the floor beside the bed, hoping to avoid stray bullets.
The next morning, they got word through the Canadian embassy of a flight out of the country to Frankfurt, Germany. After waiting hours at the airport to be processed, they were finally scheduled to leave.
But, to add an exclamation point to an already trying couple of days, the Griffiths — along with the other passengers — were forced to cough up an extra $2,000 in total so airport officials would let them on the plane.
“When it [the plane] took off, everybody cheered once it left the ground,” Griffiths said.
Now home in Kamloops, she knows she was fortunate to make it out, but she can’t help feel for the people left behind in Egypt.