Solidarity: Wisconsin mom, Egyptian student

This is by Katia Moanna, a Wisconsin mother of two:

Having come from an extremely poor background – I lived well below the poverty line the first 22 years of my life – I found my education, and choices based on that education, afforded me the ability to provide for my kids in ways I’d only dreamt of as a child. I gained in college what I lacked in childhood, a broad and open-minded perspective on the world at large – this opened new doors for me that would have previously gone completely unnoticed. Opening those doors gave me the opportunity to find a kind of financial security I never knew possible in my youth. We have a house, a car, insurance on both and food in the cupboard. This was not the case for me for most of my life. Raised by a single mother who suffered a severe back injury at 24 years old and lived on less than $400 a month, I never once had all of those at the same time growing up; we always had to choose. We go without a lot now – we are by no means rich – and given the assault on the middle class (of which I am now a part), I wonder if that will remain a thing I can claim; but for now our necessities are covered, something I didn’t know was possible before becoming educated and watching my hard work produce results in improving my living situation.

Wisconsin protests

Last week in Wisconsin I saw a threat to that minor gain. I began to see the careful work of constructing my American dream unravel. My schooling, hard work and careful planning began to be torn apart in front of me. I saw my children’s future threatened. How can they get a good education if there is no one left to teach them well? How can they get a job if none are there that will meet and, dare I say it, potentially exceed their needs? I saw this and many other actions like it around the USA and how they threatened to dismantle the middle class and stick me and my family under the line again. But what could I do? I was disabled. I was at home. I couldn’t go to Madison, a two hour drive, in the middle of winter and protest. Particularly not with two small children in tow. I was truly heartened and deeply grateful for those protesting these actions but I felt impotent in my isolation. As my friends in Wisconsin began to converge in Madison I fed my Facebook feed with instructions and news articles letting people know where to meet and telling my worldwide friends list what was happening here.

Egyptian student

And then it happened: A 21 year old Egyptian took photos of himself during a protest in Egypt with a sign that read “Egypt supports Wisconsin Workers – One world, One pain”. Having followed Egypt’s growing tide of activism and the extraordinary actions of the Egyptian people in bringing a dictator down, seeing this image was like a shot of adrenaline to the heart. I cried. I could not believe that this kid, putting his life quite literally on the line for his brothers and sisters in Egypt, was supporting MY family, MY friends and MY people in their plight against oppression. I immediately contacted him through Facebook and thanked him with my whole heart. He friended me and I saw as hundreds of others in Wisconsin added him and thanked him deeply for his simple act of solidarity. I watched as the Huffington Post ran his story; I read as he asked his FB friends what he should do now that CNN had contacted him. I felt proud to be a part of this raising global awareness of our very HUMAN struggle for the right to choose our path and support the health of the global village. It was amazing. Then something unexpected happened. He blogged about the media attention he was getting, his feelings on it and his desires regarding the use of his images. It was hastily put passionately written but, English not being his first language, and writing being my main form of communication (and really my truest passion) I saw where it could be improved. So I took a chance and posted a couple of suggestions. What happened next kind of amazed me. He asked ME to rewrite it for him. I was stunned, and overcome. I did NOT expect this! I spent about an hour researching copyright law as a refresher and gave him a way to express his requests in the best possible way I could find. I gave him the words to voice his heart to the world. His response brought me to tears. In his grateful reply he could not even continue in English and thanked me over and over in Arabic. I was beyond moved. The implications of these exchanges have had me weeping for joy and in love with the world wide community that is waking up and rising to the challenge. I am gobsmacked that a 34 year old disabled mom of two from Wisconsin could so directly connect with, and support, a 21 year old Egyptian in his fight for freedom for all peoples, half a world apart. This is amazing to me. It flies in the face of those that say we cannot organize, that we cannot make a difference, that as individuals we have no contribution to make. Lies. All lies. We can do these things. We are doing these things. We are working together toward raising our human family above tyranny in a real and deeply felt way.

Click on “Solidarity” for Katia Moanna’s complete statement.

Click on From Tahrir to Wisconsin for the Egyptian student’s response.

Click on Tongerwolkjie for Katia Moanna’s web blog.

Click on Politerature for the Egyptian student’s web log.

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