Saturday, March 31, 2007

Story of an American Runaway in Cairo

I have an interesting story to tell -- sad, but true.

There is a girl at our school let's call her "S." S has a best friend "Z" -- they are both seniors in high school. Z is quite the troublemaker. Anytime Z would get into trouble, S would get into trouble with her.

S's mother "N" works at my school. She swears that Z is the problem and her daughter S just gets into trouble because of Z. Well, personally, I don't know about that.

I will start with the troubles S and Z got into this year -- I'm not going to elaborate on last year because there are just too many situations to mention.

This year S and Z were seniors. Z was wearing hijab before this year, but decided for whatever reason to take it off. Hmm, I'm not saying it's right or wrong, but I believe that if you put on hijab you keep it on.

The problem started a few months ago when the principal's phone was missing from my office. I don't know what happened to it or where it ended up. All I know is that it was missing. Needless to say, we never found it. I don't know who would want the phone for anything, it was just a basic Nokia, but maybe whoever took it wanted it for the phone numbers stored inside. Go figure.

A month later the deputy principal's phone was missing from his office. Now this was not your basic Nokia phone. It was a Nokia phone that has the internet, and all kinds of gadgets to it. It was the top of the line Nokia. It was the personal property of the deputy principal.

About a month or so after it went missing a boy, "W" came to the principal and said that he knew what happened to the d.p.'s phone saying he knew who took it. He pointed the finger at Z and S. Of course they both denied it. He also said that he knew how to get it back.

S was being eaten up inside by the guilt (a good thing, yes) and came clean saying that Z stole it. Z denied it ever happened and it wasn't her.

Z was expelled from the school - a horrible thing to happen anywhere but especially in Egypt to an Egyptian senior. The other two, W and S were suspended from school for a week for their participation in knowing about the theft, and that they didn't bring it to the administration's attention earlier.

Now S's father "A" is Egyptian and American, his wife "N" is American and Egyptian (she got her Egyptian citizenship, why, I'll never know). A travels back and forth between the US and Egypt quite often, working in the US and visiting his family here in Cairo.

On his recent return to Cairo in February, A found out what S had done. S came to school one day with a black eye, obviously from being hit. I asked her "S, what happened to your eye?" She said "Miss Marian, I ran into a door." She was quite meek and shy the way she told me what happened. Of course I knew better. I could see where a fist hit her underneath her eye, and the cuts on the side of her face were not from running into a door.

Last week, the 12th grade went on a field trip to see a movie that they were supposed to write about in English class. S was not allowed to go of course, because her parents could not trust her. I wouldn't trust her either, quite honestly. You know the saying "You can't bullshit a bullshitter" comes to mind.

That afternoon, N went running around the school looking for S. "Where's S? Has anyone seen S?" I told N that I wanted to tell the principal that her daughter was missing. N said don't tell her, I'll tell her. When it was time to board the teachers bus to go home, S didn't show. As I was walking out of the school, I passed by N and the princpal talking by the school gate and N was crying.

Come to find out that S ran away to the American Embassy seeking protection from her abusive father. She claims that her father beats her and wants to marry her off. Ah, "Taming of the shrew." Yes, I can see it coming. S was seeking asylum back to the US. State Department officials said that an investigation had to take place in order to determine whether or not she would be returned to live with relatives or be placed in a foster home.

N was missing for at least 24 hours before they (the parents) found out that S was at the American Embassy. This past Sunday N, A, and the principal went to the Embassy for interviews by the State Department staff about what went on. The princpal was quite honest, and didn't hide anything. I don't know what N and A said in their interviews. The Embassy staff said that S is in a safe place and will stay there until the investigation is completed.

Well, it sounded as though S was safe. Apparently not that safe -- she did something really stupid. She just couldn't stay away from Z.

Z's parents have a second apartment somewhere in Cairo. A found the phone number to the flat and through his own investigating, obtained the address. S and Z were out one night last week walking along the street where A spotted her, grabbed her and put her in his car.

Now S is back at home and no one has heard from the family, nor can anyone get in contact with them.

I don't know how this story will end up. I hope it ends up ok -- that's probably the best anyone can hope for at this point.




Layla said...

Marian - wow what a situation! Has the American Embassy stepped in as to find out about S and the family? Does anyone know exactly where they live?

I really hope the Embassy can help S, but with being in a different country, there is so much they can do for her.

In my opinion, I don't think beating the child is going to accomplish or solve anything. I personally don't believe in it and there are other ways of punishing a child (taking away things like phone, TV, going out, etc).

If there is any updates about this, please let me know.

Love and Hugs!!!

Eva..."The Evolutionary" said...

You know I am kind of sitting in the middle on this one. Of course I dont approve of giving your kid a black eye. However as a parent who lived with her kids in both USA and Egypt, I was always very partial to the freedom I had in disciplining my kids while in Egypt. I mean I could spank them without fear of being reported to child services. And I never had to do that very often. I am also very opposed to the way our kids in USA can so easily get out of control and then turn around and bite their parents in the butt for disciplining them. It seems like this girl is really out of control. I was blessed, my kids never got to that point. Nor would I have let them. I cant help but think that parents are more at fault than they realize--or want to admit--when they lose control of their kids. I think it has a lot to do with respecting your parents--and that has to be taught from a young age. It also has to do with a parent investing a lot of time and effort into protecting the child, knowing what they are doing at all times, who they are's not easy being a responsible parent and it's not always relaxing or convenient--you have to really stay on top of them. It may be too late for this girl to come under her parents' control--reporting them to the Embassy--I think that sucks. And I think one day this girl will soooo wish she had a home and parents to run to--because the track she is on sounds like it is only going to lead to a bad end. Subhannah Allah. I will make du'ah for her.

Cairogal said...

Yeah, the knife cuts both ways, though, eva. No one interferes w/ how you discipline your children in Egypt, but then, when a child ReALLY needs an advocate, there's no official form to be found. Families have to govern one another, keeping child abusers, molesters, and the family 'perv' in line. A girl who'se been hit by a parent (ala black eye) should be able to find some help that doesn't involve running away to her 2nd embassy.

Marian said...

I don't disagree on disciplining children, however, a father has no right to beat the crap out of his kids or wife. I hope it all ends up ok.

Nora said...

I completely agree with you. Discipline you child.. fine! But when you start leaving marks you are doing something wrong.
I think that A, N, and S are all to blame...
But I'd still help S if I got the chance...

Marian said...

Nora, I can't agree with you more. Leaving marks on a child or wife indicates abuse - no question about it. Whether or not I would help S - I certainly would.