An East Carolina University graduate, who escaped Monday from Cairo, is now safely back in Eastern Carolina.
April Davis says after five days of enduring protests she couldn't take it any longer. The woman, who has been teaching pre-K at the American College of Cairo for the past six months, is a native of Roanoke Rapids. She said it was often hard to tell whether the gunfire she heard was on her television or happening outside her apartment.
Through a friend who is a Marine guard at the American Embassy, she was able to get on one of the last flights out on Monday to Turkey. From there she got on a plane for New York and arrived Tuesday. But a snowstorm in the northeast delayed her return to North Carolina until today.
She arrived just after 3:00 p.m. via Amtrak to the Rocky Mount train station where she was met by her parents.
April Davis' Email
Editor's Note: April Davis sent WITN an email Wednesday, part of which she wrote last weekend while still in Cairo. We are publishing it in its entirety so you might get a better feel for what she went through.
So…today is the 5th day of the riots in Egypt and I am sitting in my living room with the TV muted, because I cannot stand the talk on TV any longer. What was suppose to end the day after it began, has now become what will potentially be my biggest nightmare. Of course I have my window open and I am listening to the sounds of sirens, whistles, and guns going off here in Zamalek, as well as just across the bridge, and who knows maybe on the bridge I can see outside of my window. Friends in Egypt are beginning to call more frequently to check on my well being, as I am here alone in Egypt with no family.
Just talked to Beverly not too long ago…a fellow American teacher at my school…and she is standing at her door with her hammer and other defense items, waiting for the looters just outside of her building. You see they are trying to convince her and everyone in her building that their residence is on fire in hopes they will come out and the looters will come in a rob them clean.
These looters are criminals that were released from the police jails because apparently the police are nowhere to be found. Maybe they are on an extended vacation in Hawaii since the Egyptian people made their Holiday, Police Day, a holiday from hell, or maybe they are having tea and biscuits with Mubaraks sons in London. Either way they are not here, so this 65 year old woman is ready to defend all she has work so hard for, and as she so nicely put, "ready mess someone up if they even think about knocking on her door."
Dalia's phone call was a little less disturbing. Dalia lives in my building and she is the woman who works at my school who really does not have a title but should be called Awataf's life line for ACC, so of course nothing short of an amazing woman. Knowing I am alone with no family and limited credit to call home, she just wanted to make sure I felt safe, and openly invited me into the doors to her flat if I felt I needed to come up. Of course, there is currently plenty of room because her husband and son (whom by the way is a student in my ELEMENTARY school) are out in the street in front of our building protecting our property from the looters robbing the rich areas of Egypt.
You see the military is focused right now on Tahrir Square where hundreds of thousands of Egyptians are currently breaking curfew now well into the 5th hour of it. I guess peaceful protestors strike more of an alarm for them more so than the hundreds of crazies and newly escaped prisoners running around not protesting but looting.
Oh but that's right…Mubarak has freed the prisoners with his decision to have the police disappear from the scene and peaceful protestors are more of a threat since they are the ones that hate him…Fair enough I guess.
This was written on Saturday night, January 29, 2011, which was the last night I stayed in my home in Egypt.
Highly frustrated with limited contact back home, no response from work as to the stability of my job, and terrified to death from all of the sounds coming from my window, (there were actually times when my roommate and I would have to mute the TV just to make sure that we were actually listening to real life and not what was on CNN or Aljazeera)I decided to write to get my frustrations out in hopes to not drive myself crazy.
I could no longer vent to my roommate as she was feeling the same stresses as myself so writing seemed like the only option.
That night I did not even sleep in my own bed. I grabbed Mr. Bear and crawled in Kira's bed as I felt a little safer since she only had one tiny window in her room. The next morning on Sunday was a whirlwind of emotions. Watching the news of course did not make things better.
Things were out of control, Mubarak was shutting down Aljazeera, one of the most accurate pictures of what was happening next to CNN, there was no bread to be found in all of Zamalek, and I for the life of me could not get through to the American Embassy because lines were busy. So much for registering upon my arrival to Egypt 5 months previous as it does not do you any good to be on an email list when there is no internet.
I also was trying desperately to contact my school who at this point was still not being very active about contacting its' foreign teachers about the situation in Egypt and what they planned to do, or not do about the situation. Of course, I was highly concerned as my contract clearly stated.
"The second party may not request from the first party any compensation in case the government decides not to allow the school to operate in Egypt or in the case where unforeseen circumstances force the school out of operation in Egypt (war, strikes, demonstrations, etc.) In such cases the contract will automatically be null and void. "
Finally I reached Nahed in the admin office who basically told me she was having great trouble getting to the banks. Some of them had been robbed by looters the night before, ATM machines were running empty (which Kira and I experienced firsthand only a few days prior) and she was really not sure when she would get funds for teachers but I would have to wait regardless until school resumed.
So now was it not only the end of the month and my funds were running low, ATMs were empty making it impossible to get funds from my VISA and the internet was shut off my this awful awful dictator, so I could not even possibly transfer money from home to my HSBC account in Egypt.
I felt a sick feeling in my stomach and began to panic as to what I was going to do. Finally my roommate came out of the room where she has been on the phone with her work for almost an hour. She told me they were thinking of evacuating her from Egypt as they no longer felt it safe for her to be there. You see, Kira is from Canada and works for a company out of Canada who currently has projects in Al Azhar Park. She told me she was not sure of the time or hour of her evacuation but she was not going to leave without me.
Shortly after my phone rings and it is a friend of mine who is in the Marines at the American Embassy. He knew that I was probably trying to get through so he thought he would call me to give me an update. Basically he told me that the evacuation was currently voluntary for Americans but soon would be mandatory.
So here I sit with minimal contact back home, no internet, no money, no support from work, and wondering which hour of the day Kira would be evacuated for her safety. Not even 15 minutes later Kira busts of her room and say we have 20 minutes pack up everything that you can. So that is what I did and just as she promised, 20 minutes later we were out of the apartment and on our way to a hotel.
Once at the hotel I was able to call a friend in America who, after 2 hours of trying, was able to get me a plane ticket back to the states. While I was not able to fly into North Carolina where my family is as flights kept showing up unavailable or they were almost 2500.00 for a one way ticket, I managed to get a flight to New York where I have friends.
I left on Monday for the Airport VERY early. Cerfew for Monday had been set for 3pm, so while my flight was at 8pm I decided to leave from the hotel at 1pm to ensure I made it on time. There were thousands of people in the airport trying to get tickets. I said one final prayer and made my journey into the airport. I was flying on Turkish Airlines and of all of the lines in the Airport my airline had 5 people waiting to have questions answered. Thank GOD I was able to get my boarding pass with no problem.
I then made my way to the bar in the airport waiting hours for my flight at praying it would not be canceled. While I was there I spoke with the bartender who said he had been working at the airport for 4 days in a row as he and many others were not allowed to leave. Also, the food supply was very limited and only certain items were available on the menu.
With curfews in effect and the Egypt Army guarding the airport, food was running low due to lack of deliveries. At 4pm while I am sitting at the bar I notice EVERY SINGLE FLIGHT on the screen went to RED and CANCELLED! My heart sunk. I got up to look at the situation a little closer and noticed of all the flights canceled my flight was the only one with no status. I began to pray even harder for my return home and thank God at 10pm my flight left the airport. I slept on a bench at the Turkey Airport for about 10 hours and then boarded the plane to NYC.
Thank goodness I have a friend here I can stay with for a few days to decompress and try to find the best method to get home despite the weather but I am left a bit of an emotional wreck. I have no job, no money (only a little stash my grandfather put into my account to get home) and I am bombarded every time I sign onto Facebook from friends in Egypt. Some are thankful for my safety, others think I acted irrationally and do not understand why people feel threatened. I guess it really depends on who's news station you are watching in Egypt.
While I am highly saddened by what is happening in Egypt I cannot wait to hopefully see my family in the next few days and figure out what to do from here. It is like I am starting all over again.
No job, no salary from even last month to get by on for a month, currently no way home, many of my belongings left in Cairo and a loss of many friends I was not even able to say goodbye to before I left Cairo, and who knows if I will ever see them again. It is like my life just ended in a matters of 20 minutes and I have what I think will be a train ride back to NC to transition to whatever my new life will be.
This ECU graduate from North Carolina who has had everything going for her since graduation is now unsure of where to go but one thing I know for sure is my family loves me very much and one thing they have always told me and I know to be so true even today God is in control and I know he will never put me through anything he cannot get me out of.
Thank you for listening.
April Davis from Roanoke Rapids North Carolina (currently in NYC waiting for a train home)