Sevcik's Blog

A year in Cairo Egypt

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Editing Translation

A North Sudanese friend of mine, Rania, asked me to help her edit a couplepapers she was writing for one of her AUC courses. Worth 20% of her final grade, she was translating Arabic newspaper articles intoEnglish, and she wanted help from a native English speaker regarding her sentences structure, grammar, and general flow. Sounded great to me! I've always enjoyed editing papers, even to the point of getting a job through the Psychology Department at St. Olaf in which I edited papers, so this really excited me. Of course, helping a friend is enjoyable in and ofitself.

So, I met Rania at the AUC yesterday and for the next four hours wesat and worked through her assignment. By the end my head and eyeshurt. I was reminded of my sophomore year of college studying Spanish, only this time I was giving the advice that I had once received withmuch anxiety and frustration.Rania is very articulate, so I was surprised to discover her written skills lacking far behind her oral communication skills. After my first reading of her work, I decided we needed to start from scratch and take it paragraph by paragraph in order to create a decent translation.

First, I asked Rania to start reading at the beginning of the articleand translate for me. What she said made more sense than her written translation, but it was still confusing and haphazard. It didn't takelong for me to figure out what was going on. She was reading inArabic and translating "in Arabic." I had the same problem whentranslating into Spanish--I would write sentences with the Spanish vocabulary I knew but in an English-sentence format. I laughed out loud thinking back to all those times my professors told me I have to think in Spanish in order to express myself in Spanish, and I never could do it well. So, new tactic. I told Rania to read a paragraph to herself, and thenI took the paper away from her and told her to tell me what it said. At first she wanted the paper back--the crutch--but she soon was ableto tell me what the article said in her own English words. Now wewere on a roll! From that point on we mostly got stuck on trying tof igure out the best English vocabulary word for the Arabic word or expression, which also proved to be difficult but entertaining. It was another experience (of many) that has given me a greater appreciation for the talented people who know more than one language. Now if only I can put that into better practice myself...:-)

minya el qamh

Last Thursday Teri and I took a north-bound train to a village town in the Nile Delta to visit a small evangelical congregation. Pastor Nassif,a student at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo, had asked us to visit his church to speak with the young adult youth group whomeets every Thursday night for prayer and worship. Teri and I jumped on the chance to spend time with Egyptian Christian youth.

Frankly, Teri and I had no clue where we were going, other than we should get on a train going north into the delta. We didn't know what stop to get off at, nor could either of us remember the name of the town (and even if we could, we couldn't pronounce it). Nassif told us he would give us a "missed call" when the train arrived at the station, but that never happened. Luckily, we decided to call Nassif just as we were pulling away from the right station, so we did the hop-off-the-train-as-it-is-moving scene. Gosh I've always wanted to do that! Within minutes we met Nassif and Demiana, a young Coptic woman who attends Nassif's church and is also a student at RCG. (She takes thetrain to RCG and back home every about commute!) Following the two through the dirt streets we came to an unmarked door and found ourselves in a place of worship, just across and down the street from a large and expressive Coptic Orthodox church. Nassif's church was basically a hidden flat and I would never have been able to find it on my own.

Quoting from Teri (because I know how much she loves it :-): It turns out that the evangelical church uses this flat--with a room for a sanctuary, a room for Sunday school, a room for prayer meetings, and a small library--for all its worship, meetings and business because their school and land and church were confiscated under Nasser. You see, the Presbyterian missionaries in Egypt set up schools, and then churches. So churches often used the school building as a worship facility as well. Several decades ago, the Presbyterian church transferred most of the properties to the newly-independent Synod of the Nile of the Coptic Evangelical Church of Egypt (then the Evangelical Presbyterian Church). And then, when abd-el-Nasser came to power, foreigners (especially Christians) were kicked out and a lot of church property was confiscated and church schools were nationalized, becoming government schools. This is what happened in Minya-el-qamh (which, by the way, means something like "land of wheat" and is in the area of Goshen, where the Hebrews stayed while they were in Egypt. There are several traditional biblical sites in the area.). The Evangelical church lost its school and its worship space...and with it, quite a lot of members. The Orthodox church came in and built two large buildings. At one time, all the Christians in the town (about 1/4 of the population) were Evangelical. No longer...primarily because there is no place. One of Nassif's goals is to get money and permission to build a school with a worship space so that some of the families that aren't worshipping or participating will come back to the church.

Inside a group of women were waiting for Nassif to begin the woman's worship, so Teri and I sat in the back and watched the woman sing and pray to the Lord. After the woman's service we were given loads of cakes and desserts to eat, and then some fuul and taamia. As always, we were served well the Egyptian style :-) Soon about 20 youth showed up and we were ready to begin the worship. Teri and I did our best to follow along, and even though we couldn't understand the Arabic, we were able to piece some things together.

Soon it was time for Teri and me to give "the sermon". Teri began by talking about what's in a name, and how Abram and Sarai had their names changed as signs of their relationship with God. As I listened to Teri, a camp song kept running through my head, "I will change your shall no longer be called wounded, outcast, lonely or afraid....I have changed your shall now be called...confidence, joyfulness, overcoming one...faithfulness, friend of God, one who seeks my face..." and I was daydreaming back to good times at FLBC. Teri concluded by saying one way we have relationship through God is through prayer, and this transitioned into my part of the sermon; Prayer. I wanted the youth to get involved, so I asked them questions about what is prayer, why do we pray, when and where do we pray, and how do we pray? I wanted to get a good idea of what this group of young Egyptians thought about prayer and found that it was similar to my own and very deep. (I even had the sense they pray without ceasing. :-) We talked about Matthew 7:7-8, where Jesus says "Ask, and it shall given to you; seek and you shall find; knock and the door will be opened onto you. For whoever asks shall receive, whoever seeks shall find, and whoever knocks the door will be opened." R

emembering what I learned from my friend Kim Elg, I talked about being bold in prayer--do not be afraid, as our Lord so desperately wants to be in relationship with us. We also talked a lot about listening, and they seemed to like the concept of "we have only one mouth but two ears" --that tells us something about how we should live our lives. I was excited to find myself very comfortable in front of this group--to the point of feeling like I was just conversing with a bunch of old friends. The "sermon" was mostly on the fly, and I could sense the Holy Spirit helping me with continuous flowing thoughts and words. Nassif was standing next to me during this time, translating every sentence. It was an odd experience to speak about 10 words, then wait until you could say the next thought. In some ways it was distracting, and I know Teri had a hard time figuring out if she was repeating herself (did I say it or just think it?), but it was fun to speak and then watch the youth understand what I said five seconds later. It gave me the opportunity to concentrate more on their response than what I was saying.

After the service we were offered more food and time for fellowship, but it was cut short because we had to board the south-bound train for home. Still, in that short time I witnessed a great group of young adults who joyfully serve God and each other. Being a witness to those relationships gave me the sense that the church has a real sense of hope, peace, and love. Hopefully we'll visit again soon.

Fira Fun

I'm at the point in my year where I'm spending time reflecting about what I've done thus far and what I want to do in the short time I have left. In doing this, I am thinking a lot about my friendships here. On the one hand, I want to meet as many people as I can to learn from each other, share stories with each other, and develop a friendship. On the other hand I don't want to spread myself too thin and not make any lasting relationships. Growing up I tended to be a bit of a social butterfly, but as time goes on I've decided to really work on developing fewer but stronger relationships. When I return home in a few months, I want to stay in contact with a few people I have come to love.

Through this analyzation, I've discovered just how much I adore the Fira girls. I've mentioned them a few times in my blogs--they are three sisters (ages 15-17) from Ethiopia, students in our teen program. I absolutely love these girls, and I love spending time with them, so lately I've been making a greater effort to find things to do with them. A couple weeks ago I took them to the Cairo Opera House to visit the Art Museum. Mariam has been telling me how much she loves art (esp. the type of art "with two meanings") so I thought they'd enjoy a museum. I was exhausted after looking at nearly every piece of art in this museum, but even after a couple hours the girls were still excited.

Last weekend their mom invited me to their home for a day of Ethiopian delights! They cooked some wonderful Ethiopian food, played Ethiopian music, and taught me to dance Ethiopian style. They dressed me in Ethiopian celebration clothing and we took pictures. Later the girls and I went to the nearby Fuji film shop to take professional photos with funky backgrounds. Before I left for the night Mother Fira gave me three wall decorations she had made in Ethiopia as well as the celebration dress I had been wearing as we were dancing. Their generosity is humbling, to say the least, and I was treated as a most honored guest.

Mother Fira used to work as a house cleaner, but her bad back has forced her give it up, so the girls have been looking for housecleaning work to support the family. While some people drop out of school in order to work and make money, I was told long ago the girls would not be willing to leave school--education is the most important thing. Of course, one must be well off enough to make that statement, because when there are mouths to feed it's clear that a job will come before school. Still, I was impressed to hear this was the case, and I've kept my eyes and ears open for an opportunities they might have.

The opportunity came last week, when my friend Khalil and his roommates agreed to hire the girls for a day of cleaning. Mariam, Faiza, Khalil and I spent hours in the afternoon washing the floor, spraying the windows, dusting the walls and ceiling, and continuously washing out filthy rags. You have never seen a dirty home until you've spent time in a college males flat in Cairo. In Cairo, even if you cleaned your house every day you'd wake up to a layer of dust every morning. In Khalil's case, I think it had been years since they cleaned certain parts of the flat. In the process we discovered a huge dead/dying plant that I've never noticed, and a lampshade that was in fact green, not brown. We really had a good time together, listening to music and watching the place turn from dirty mess to clean and refresh (rhymes ;-) and we were proud of our work. And wow can those girls clean! Khalil even made spaghetti with meat sauce to give the girls a little taste of our American food. I think our next activity will be a movie with popcorn and chocolate cake--yum!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

motherly touch

In my many roles as Assistant Director of Children's Education Program, the one that came out last Thursday was nurse and surrogate mother.

My boss has been on vacation all week and I have directing duties for the time being. This can mean anything from dealing with fights and discipline issues to working with Western volunteers. On Thursday, however, after the usual checking in with teachers and making sure our breakfast program was set to go, a teacher brought a young girl who was ill to my office. The poor thing had a burning fever and had just thrown up. She looked pretty miserable and shy, and unfortunately she didn't speak English or even Arabic! Even her teacher was having a hard time communicating with her. After some discussion, we decided to set up some comfy chairs for her to sleep on and give her a blanket until we could find a way to get ahold of someone who spoke Nuer.

In the meantime I decided to put aside any "duties" I might have and spent time just being there for the child. I figured she must be so uncomfortable and perhaps frightened. We went into the conference room and I sat next to her, rubbing her back and giving her some water to drink and a sandwich to eat. Soon she felt comfortable with me and laid her head on my lap and fell to sleep as a softly stroked her forehead. As I sat there I thought about touch, and how important it is for people to be held, especially when they are feeling ill and low. It's especially important for children to feel a motherly touch, and I hope I was able to provide her some comfort for the day. I'm not even sure she has a mother in her life now.

Today her father showed up at St. Andrews looking for some help. The girl is still sick, and they do not have the money needed to go to the doctor...

~~~Today remember the blessing of health, and say a prayer for those struggling to meet even the basic needs for taking care of their health.~~~

Thursday, March 09, 2006

fish eyes

John Rubena, St. Andrew’s database manager, is moving to Canada next Thursday. After a long wait, he finally found out only a week or two ago that he has the visa and is set to go. It’s an exciting opportunity for John, as he will be able to work in Canada, hopefully find a school to further his computer science degree, and meet with his to-be wife. Still, to be honest I’m really sad to see him go. John has become the best friend I have in Egypt, and I’m going to have a rough transition without him around. In the meantime, however, I (and others from work) have been trying to spend as much time with him as possible. This weekend we are going shopping (some items for Canada), see a Sudanese band concert, and have a little party. And this evening Matthew and I had the pleasure of joining John to his favorite Cairo restaurant—The Fish Market on the Nile.

Like most fish you buy in Egypt, you get the whole fish. To see fish eyes peering at me as I pick through scales and tiny bones really doesn’t alarm me any more, but to be served this excellent meal with a good friend who I don’t know when I will see again was bittersweet. We had a wonderful meal of deep conversation and laughter, and I’m left feeling very alive and fresh but also sad. This is the reality of life, however, and especially the reality of working at St. Andrews. We (St. Andrews) exist to help people, and often that means letting people move on and being happy for their new life and exciting future. I keep feeling like the people I get to know the best are the ones to leave, but in the end I am so thankful to have been blessed by their presence in this world.

Anyhow, here’s a story from dinner that I just have to share. So, after our meal the waiter comes by to give us an evaluation form. Will we please fill it out? Okay, no problem. We marked the appropriate squares regarding whether the restaurant was clean or not, whether the service was speedy and friendly or not, and if the food was of good quality and temperature or not. Other than one “fair” we answered “good” or “excellent” to all questions. Then, in the comment section, I wrote, “Very good food and service! Thank you!”

As our waiter took the comment card, Matthew noticed him open it up immediately and read it as he walked away. We had a good chuckle about that,
but it became even more hilarious when the waiter came back and spoke to John (in Arabic) about the card. Matthew and I weren’t sure what was going on, but when the waiter gave John a new card to fill out we had a clue. He didn’t like our response and we had to write another evaluation—a more ‘appropriate’ evaluation this time! By this time we were roaring. So, we filled out a new evaluation, taking out the one “fair” for “good” and this time writing “il hum du ‘allah” [Praise be to God] in the comments. The waiter double checked this card, asked John to tell him what our comment said, and after being satisfied he shook his head with thanks and let us go.

We kept the old evaluation, and Matthew and I are going to tape it up in our office at work. For us, this experience totally exemplified so much of what I’ve come to see in Egypt. Rather than being able to have my own opinion, there is a ‘correct’ answer I must give—there is a uniform way of thinking. Instead of fighting against the system, I must adapt my feelings about it and say everything is ‘just fine’ and ‘malish’. This lack of critical thinking/independent thought has seeped its way into the educational systems and culture of Egypt in many ways, to the point of not being able to give an honest feedback about my dinner experience!

The "Warm Up" Game

It was Day 3 for the Cairo sandstorm (mild) and after the hot air of Tuesday, the desert brought in a cold, windy evening last night and cool day today. Our students, many without proper warm clothing, were pretty chilled.

During the breakfast break I was doing my usual walk around the courtyard greeting the children as they came running past me yelling, "Hi Miss Sarah!", shaking my hand as they kept moving on to run off to eat or play. I noticed a lot of their hands were cold, and finally one student, Nadeel, sat by me long enough for me to ask her if she was chilly and get a positive response. A couple other kids piped in and said they were cold as well.

What came to mind? None other than a game I learned at Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp used to keep us warm on those cold nights in the Glacier Wilderness. You hold hands with another and simultaneously try to jump on each other’s feet while not letting the other stomp on yours. It gets you warm in a jiffy :-)

Hadeel and I played this little game and within seconds she was shrieking with joy. Soon a few other girls came up and wanted to play. After a few minutes of intense down-ward looking concentration on our feets, I looked up to find clusters of kids all around the courtyard playing this “warm up” game. I had to laugh! It was adorable. (Gosh I love kids!) Yeah FLBC!

Siwa Oasis mini-vacation

The "Alex girls" (Jen and Jennifer), their Swedish roommates (Nomi and Louise) and I spent last weekend in the most western oasis in Egypt, located in the Great Sand Sea of the Western Desert, near the Libyan border. From Cairo it took 12 1/2 hours to get there, but it was well worth any time spent travelling.

Siwa is considered "one of the most picturesque and idyllic places in Egypt," according to the Lonely Planet guide, and it's true. Surrounded by sand dunes, Siwa stands as a place with life; lush greenery of date palms, streams and springs, and mud-brick villages. Until recently Siwa was quite isolated. A road to Siwa (through the desert) wasn't built until about 20 years ago, in fact. This isolation natural makes Siwa and it’s people unique in many ways, including their primary language of Berber and their very traditional culture. Many women in Siwa do not leave their home, and when they do they are often covered from head to toe--you can't even see a glimpse of skin or eye. The very young girl, however, roam the streets with the young boys; running around laughing and playing. I even saw a few playing jump rope! Almost all of them have pig-tailed braids tied with large bright ribbons (usually red) on the ends.

When first arriving in Siwa the first thing we noticed was the transportation system--donkey carts! Young boys (some no older than 8) were waiting at the bus station to pick up the locals, other Egyptians, and our little group of women, with a sign on their donkey carts saying, "Siwa Taxi" or "Welcome to Siwa". We hopped on two carts and for Le 10 we went about 100 meters around the corner to our hotel. Although I know this has been the way of transportation for thousands of years, it was the last time I road on the donkey cart because I felt so bad for that small animal carting us around! The donkeys are so cute!

Even though it was already 9:00pm, we ended up heading out for the night with Mahmoud, the teenage man who ended up being our personal tour guide for the weekend. He took us to a hot spring where locals spend time bathing in mud baths and enjoying the refreshing warm water. It was like a massage! Jennifer and I lathered ourselves with the soft mud and soaked up time resting in this natural whirl pool. For the next two days we visited many cold springs (including one named "Cleopatra's Bath") for refreshing dips as well. These natural spring waters bubble up into a large stone pools; some even hold fishes swimming all around. They were full of algae, however, so most of our group did not partake in any fresh water dips.

After a good rest we woke up on Friday with an incredible breakfast of omelettes and crepes with bananas and honey. Without talking more about food, let me just say the food in Siwa was some of the best food I've had in months--and cheap! Anyhow, after our brunch we headed to Shali in the centre of town. Shali is the mud-brick remains of the 13-th century town on Siwa. It’s a "fortress enclave" built from material known as kershef, which are large chunks of salt mixed with rock and plastered in local clay. It's a labyrinth of old homes on a hill, really; with the original structures rising up four or five stories. For centuries few outsiders were admitted inside, but in 1926 a three-day rain (it almost never rains in Siwa!) was so damaging that the inhabitants have mostly abandoned Shali. A few buildings are still used, including a few home and a mosque that has a minaret looking like an old chimney. We met a few boys who took us to their grandfather's old home in Shali, mostly in ruins now. Shali is a photographer and adventurer's paradise, with its maze-like quality and beauty. I had a heyday taking literally 50 photos in there--including sunset photos from the top where you can look over all of Siwa.

My biggest excitement for the trip was a night camping out in the desert, and it was all I wanted it to be! With Mahmoud and a 4WD driver, we took off for the sand dunes in the late afternoon and stormed through the desert sea. Before reaching the sand, we had to flatten our tires so much it seemed wrong to me, but what do I know? Then we took off through the dunes, travelling fast over the hills and swerving around the sand sea. It was like an amusement park ride at times, and I can't believe that vehicle held out. A couple times we took down some steep hills and it was a wonder to me we didn't get stuck. (The vehicle did get stuck later, actually, but we were able to get some help.) After cruising around for awhile we found a good hill to try sand boarding. Much like snowboarding, you slide down the hill on a waxed board (waxed with hand soap!) and pray you make it to the bottom--or just jump off. Most of us decided to go 'sledding' instead, which seemed faster and safer, winding up with sand in our pants (just like snow!) Soon the sun was setting and we jumped back into the 4WD to rush for a great spot to watch the sunset and let our guides set up camp.

Like all good camping experiences, we spent the night cooking dinner on a fire and sleeping out under the stars. During our meal of Siwan cooked vegetables, meat, rice, and tea, we shared songs; Swedish songs, American songs, Egyptian songs, Siwan songs, and Bedouin songs. I’m still not sure what I was saying, other than a lot of “habibi” (meaning “my dear”) but it was a great bonding experience for all of us. We also sang a Happy Birthday to Jennifer, who was turning 23 at midnight. Soon we were all ready for bed and huddled close to one another under blankets and sleeping on small mattresses. Even though it gets so darn cold at night in the desert we had the stars to look at whenever the sand cleared. Of course, being so far away from any light source, the stars shown bright and beautiful! In the morning I woke up with crusted sand in the corner of my eyes and in my ears.

On Saturday we decided to rent bikes and tour the outskirts of the city, travelling on the dirt roads through the oasis palm trees. We visited the Temple of the Oracle, built in 6th century BC, dedicated to Amun and one of the most influential oracles in the ancient Mediterranean. It was so powerful and famous kings sent armies to try to destroy it. One legend, coming from Herodotus, is the tale of King Cambyses, who sent 50,000 men to destroy it and its priests. The army never reached the site, and legend has it they were swallowed up in a sandstorm, only reinforcing the political power of the Amun priesthood. Even Alexander the Great took an eight-day trek through the desert in 331 BC for an oracle consultation. He was seeking confirmation that he was the son of Zeus and that as the new pharaoh of Egypt he was also the son of Amun. Apparently he received the confirmation he desired. :-)

We saw the Gebel al-Mawta--Mountatin of the Dead—a hill filled with honey-comb rock tombs mostly from Ptolemaic and Roman times. The tombs were used as shelters when the Italians bombed the oasis in WWII. At that time many new tombs were discovered by not properly excavated. Apparently British soldiers paid Siwan families only a few piastres to cut away large chunk of the tomb paintings for souvenirs. Still, I really enjoyed the Mountain of the Dead for two reasons. One, the paintings are more recent than those of Luxor and Aswan, and therefore the artistic style is a bit different. Two, one tomb had skeletons and mummies in it! No joke! As tomb #3 was unlocked and we walked in I noticed a full-grown mummy and skeleton to my right and a child's skeleton and mummy on my left. There was also a box with a skull in it--hair still on its head. Wow! We tried asking why these weren't in a museum, but the guard, who knew little English, didn't understand why they would be taken away. "No, most pieces were taken from people...looted...this is what's left." Oh, okay!

By 10pm Jennifer and I were on an over-night bus heading back for Alexandria. A quick mini-vacation, but one of the greatest places I've visited in Egypt thus far.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

"Suzie's" life

Yesterday my position as "Director of CEP" was certainly put to use.

Yohannes, our administrative guru, set up a meeting with a student and her parent. This is common; at least once a week I have a meeting with a student and a parent to discuss discipline issues of some sort. We meet in the conference room; Yohannes to my left, the parent to my right, and the student somewhere near us as Yohannes translates the discussion for me. Yesterday's case was a bit different. The situation was that Suzie (obviously not her name) has been in the same class for a couple years now and is not showing improvement. We were concerned there was something negative going on in her family life.

Through the discussion we discovered that the parent was actually Suzie's "stepmom," as Yohannes put it. In fact, Suzie's father has/had three wifes. He is living in Sudan still while the three wives have been living in Egypt (except now the first wife is dead). For some reason Suzie is not living with the second wife, Suzie's mom, but instead living with the third wife. This isn't so much an issue in fact, being that in Sudan children are often raised by the whole community. Suzie is one of "Sandy's" (Wife #3) "own" in a sense. Also, the family is financially stable with enough money for rent, food, and clothing. There does not seem to be any sign of abuse.

Anyhow, Suzie and her sister (also a St. Andrews student) often miss school and tend to be missing on different days. Thus far Suzie's story has been that she says at her aunt's home or grandma's home and doesn't come to school because she sleeps in and stays there. Wife #3 explained that auntie and grandma give Suzie money for the metro and send her off at an appropriate time in the morning for class. So, essentially everyone is doing their part with the expectation that Suzie and her sister are at school. At the appropriate time after school ends Suzie comes home and everythings seems fine.

So yesterday the news came out that Suzie is in fact not at school all the time...yikes. Where she goes and what she is doing no one knows but it's obvious she is hiding something from everyone. We tried to get her to talk about it but she wouldn't say a word. She wouldn't look at any of us and wouldn't answer any questions.

My heart was breaking watching her. The worst case scenerios were running through my mind. Is this budding, beautiful 13-year old getting involved in drugs, gangs, or sex? What could she possibly be doing or wanting that would make her decide to not come to school? Thing is, St. Andrews is such a refuge for these children. On the streets they are harrassed but at St. Andrews they can relax, learn, and spend time with their peers. I cannot understand why anyone of them would actively choose to wander the streets (or whatever) instead of coming to school. Whatever is going on in Suzie's world it must be big and it frightens me for her.

Yohannes expressed his concern that Suzie just doesn't want to learn--perhaps she would prefer a school that teachs arabic instead of English. Maybe she doesn't like to live with Sandy. He asked me what we should do.

And what should we do? I said she must start coming to class more regularly is she is serious about learning. There have been families waiting to get children into St. Andrews for a couple years, so if a student is not going to try, we need to let other students come. Now that Sandy knows the situation about Suzie's unknown whereabouts, hopefully they can do something to make sure she stays off the streets and comes to class. I also told Suzie it is important for her to tell us what is going on in her life. Something is clearly wrong and we want to help her. Yohannes suggested that Suzie talk with either Mariam or Amany, two of our women teachers. However, he's not sure she will because, as he said, "In this culture the reputation is very important and she is scared about the gossip it will bring." Oh man.

My prayer is for Suzie to come clean to someone and let us know what is going on in her life. I fear that Suzie is too deeply involved in something or too scared to let it out, but insha 'allah she will get the help she needs.
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