Yesterday was, perhaps, Humans of New York‘s most moving day in the blog’s five-year history of 10,000 poignant posts and inspiring insights. Its audience, reaching all corners of the globe, watched rapt as photographer Brandon Stanton unraveled the heart-wrenching tale of Egyptian hero and adventurer Omar Samra.
A testament to Stanton’s empathic interviewing and powerful narrative skills, it was the first time he had shared a subject’s story in a serial way such as Samra’s, with five revealing posts published over the course of nine compelling hours.
But it wasn’t the first time he’s featured an Egyptian. The power of HONY lies, arguably, in its subjects, each one carrying their own burdens, desires, lessons – a snapshot of humanity itself. Stanton peels back that veneer, if only for the amount of time it takes to click a shutter button, exposing otherlives about which we, the audience, can only speculate.
Here are six Egyptians featured on Humans of New York:
“I want to be a doctor, but I can’t pay tuition at the moment because I support my parents back in Egypt. But in six months, I will have my license to work for a car service, which should give me enough money to also go to school.”
UPDATE: Does anyone know what happened to this man? His post received an outpouring of support from people all over the world, offering help for tuition as well as help for his parents. We haven’t been able to track down the rest of his story. If you know anything, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
She’s from Egypt. Which is fitting, because she looks like a perfect mix of desert and dance club.
“Every country is good for different reasons. They are like different fruits. But Egypt is my favorite. Egypt is like a mango.”
“America is good. But Egypt is home.”
I struck up a conversation with him, and he casually mentioned that he was having trouble adjusting to Columbia, due to his “previous situation.” So I asked him to elaborate.
“I was born in Egypt,” he said. “I worked on a farm until 3rd grade with no education. I came to the US for one year, started 4th grade, but was pulled out because my father couldn’t find work and returned to Egypt for a year. The first time I went to an actual school was middle school, but the whole school was in one classroom, and I was working as a delivery boy to help the family. It was illegal for me to be working that young, but I did. When I finally got into high school, my house burned down. We moved into a Red Cross Shelter, and the only way we could live there is if we all worked as volunteers. I got through high school by watching every single video on Khan Academy, and teaching myself everything that I had missed during the last nine years. Eventually I got into Queens College. I went there for two years and I just now transferred to Columbia on a scholarship provided by the New York Housing Association for people who live in the projects. It’s intimidating, because everyone else who goes to Columbia went to the best schools, and have had the best education their entire lives.”
“She was young and healthy and we were very relaxed about the birth. We were even discussing having a natural birth at home. Then one evening, shortly before she was due, we were eating at a restaurant and we got a call from the doctor. He told us, ‘Marwa’s platelet count is very low. You need to pack a change of clothes and come to the hospital immediately.’ We went to the hospital right away, and they put her in the bed and hooked her up to all these machines. Nobody seemed worried. Even the doctors didn’t seem worried. But then Marwa said to me: ‘If something happens to me, take care of our daughter.’ And I burst into tears. ‘Don’t say that!’ I told her. ‘Why would you say that?’”
WE SAID THIS: Don’t miss 8 Egyptians Who Are Kicking Butt Abroad.