Monthly Archives: October 2010

Road To Hope: Tauqir Tox Sharif Libyan Egyptian Border

Advertisements

Locked out

Today I was woken up by the intense heat in the tent from the sun beaming onto it this morning combined with the body heat of a brother I’ve given refuge to in my tent.  The brother who I’ll refer to as ‘B’ was sleeping in his van so I offered to put him up in my tent as it’s spacious and two people  can comfortably fit in.

At the moment it’s the same old story no one knows anything and there’s an internal issue that is trying to be rectified and its leaving a bad impression on the convoy members.

Earlier during the day the convoy leaders travelled to meet an official to negotiate for the Libyans to provide us a vessel that will take us to Al Arish. In fact the official they went to meet was apparently a colonel, but I’m yet to find out how successful the meeting was.

During the day one brother whose vans parked next to mine left his key in the van so me and ‘B’ spent a good hour trying to get into the vehicle without causing any damage.

We managed to take of the small window on the passenger door that is adjacent to the mirror by removing the rubber seal and then yanking the glass out with a sharp object. It’s the first time I’ve entered a vehicle like this and alhumdulillah you learn something new every day and that’s one of the beauties of travelling.

The sign of relief on the brother who’d left the key in the vehicle’s face was apparent when we managed to open the door. Unfortunately many vehicles have one key and with more than one person needing access to the van is extremely irritating and the chances of losing the key are very high.

Once we retrieved the key we now had to try to replace the window back without breaking the glass which proved to be very fiddly and was a matter of trial and error. In the end we managed to replace the glass in one piece and the brothers were very relieved.

As is the routine we had our reminder after Maghrib prayer and the topic was about the destiny and control Allah has over lives.

In the evening me and a few brothers slipped out of this compound to grab a bite to eat in the local town. It’s not much of a town, its literally one main road with a few shops on it. The area is very rural and tribal, it’s very much like the wild west here with local mafia’s and gangs going around targeting their opponents and only the other day one convoy member witnessed a fight outside the restaurant he was eating in.

Alhumdulillah we didn’t encounter any problems and we returned back to the compound to find that there was a big meeting going on to discuss the course of action that’ll be taken from now on.

The weather at night is very chilly and in the day when the sum comes out it becomes very hot which is typical desert weather.

I still can’t get to an internet cafe, the nearest one is 120 kM’s away and none of the chaperones want to take me and the’re not permitting us to leave on our own. ImshAllah I’ll make a big effort tomorrow and try to pull a few strings, i.a

JazakumAllah khair

Improvisation is key

Today has been yet another day of uncertainty and from the moment we woke up it’s an immediate quest for answers and collecting information from those who are more likely to know. Although it’s a test of patience, being stagnant like this and not knowing what will take place in the next 24 hours really makes you appreciate how all affairs are in the hands of Allah.

From the moment we wake up we don’t know what we’ll eat, where we’ll be sleeping the night, or whether we’ll make any progress to our final destination. Although in essence this is the case with life in general, sometimes we forget how nothing is in our control and being in this limbo really makes one reflect upon this reality.

Being able to cope with too much time and not much to do can be a big test for some people, and those who fail in this test are those who are unable to find a way to reoccupy themselves and engage in things that will benefit them.

Having time on ones hands is something foreign to many, especially coming from the fast paced and busy lives we lead. It’s an opportunity many waste by maybe playing games on their phones or wondering around acting childish. It’s amazing how idle time can affect people and the amount of incidents that take place when a group of people come together with different backgrounds, cultures and views are innumerable.

I’m very surprised they haven’t made a reality show based upon a group of people all on a journey as they face the uncertainties and hardships of travelling, it beats big brother or any soap opera with all its twists and unravelling of plots.

We’re still receiving unconfirmed information and the latest is that the Libyan group, Al Quds five, who apparently we were meant to be tagging along with has for some reason not materialised and now we’ll be journeying by boat from Tobruk to AL Arish.

 Tobruk is approximately 120 kM’s from here on the way to Tripoli which is a coastal city off the Mediterranean and from there by sea we’ll be heading in a north-easterly direction towards Al Arish.

To be honest, from what occurred on the last land convoy, I knew our chances of travelling through Egypt to Al Arish were very slim.

In my humble opinion, the Egyptians aren’t fond of us entering Gaza, in fact they don’t want this hassle and its far easier for them to make it harder for us until we give up. This is for two reasons, the first being they don’t want this convoy to travel through their country from west to East along the coast which raises awareness about the plight of the people of Gaza, and secondly they’d rather avoid all the logistics of chaperoning us. Although it’s more a case of surveillance and preventing as much interaction between the convoy and the local population as possible, the logistics involved is something they would rather avoid by allowing us to enter on the condition we arrive in the port of Al Arish.

This condition was previously stated on the last convoy when we spent approximately a week in Aqaba Jordan which was the reason why we backtracked all the way to Damascus and Latakia.

I suppose only time will tell and as I mentioned these events highlight how only Allah controls the affairs and nothing comes about except by the permission of Allah.

At the moment we’re eating whatever we can whip up from the food we have in our vans and there is no proper cooking facilities we just improvise with whatever we have. Most people have those travel cookers and some brothers have got together and fried chips and made them into butties, not very nutritional, whilst others are on a staple diet of pot noodles. Those who tend to live off pot noodles are usually the can’t cook wont cook individuals who can just about work a camping cooker, pour water into a pot heat it up and follow the instructions on the side of the pot noodle packet.

Some individuals prefer to starve and wait for someone to make something and then just either ask or wait to be offered whatever their eating, whilst some brother take the initiative to cook and seem to enjoy improvising.

Towards the evening as Maghrib set in we prayed in congregation in a spare room as the building that we’re staying in has plenty of rooms so we managed to turn one into a masjid. We’re trying to make it part of the daily routine to have a reminder every day and today’s was about the explanation of Surat al Asr, which is a very powerful chapter of the Quran.

There seems to be a lot of individuals with much talent and in the evening some brothers wanted to cover up some writing on their van that was written on at one of the stops in Libya. Everytime we stop people tend to write on our vehicles messages to the people of Gaza. Some members of the convoy allow it whilst others don’t. Personally I think it should be avoided to keep the vehicles in as good condition as possible.

The brothers decided to cover it up by spraying the vans with some art work so one individual sprayed the side with ‘Allahu Akbar’ and the back with a knight bearing a black flag. MashAllah it looked very impressive and I’ll try and get a picture to upload.

InshAllah I’ll be off to my tent to sleep the night, although there are rooms as usual I prefer to sleep in my tent and I’ve managed to get some of the foam mattresses that people are using inside to give it that extra cosy feeling.

 Layth

Yes they are still in Libya!

Assalamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

Well it seems the road to hope convoy are still in Libya waiting by the Egyptian border for negotiations to allow them to proceed on their journey. Layth has been writing daily posts but unfortunately where they are staying is pretty barren and there are no internet cafes to update blog. When he finally gets internet access you will get backdated posts inshaAllah. In the meantime keep checking back for little updates via twitter on the tweet section of the blog and keep everyone in your duas. JazakAllahukhair.

UmmSafiyyah

Passing time at the border

Today has been a very eventful day, not in terms of us making any progress towards our destination but rather a few internal  events took place that I dare not publicise as at the moment I see it to be counterproductive. To be honest this has been unfolding over the last couple of days and its disappointing to see it take place on such a journey but I suppose disagreements driven by egos and personal agendas will always plague endeavours of goodness and righteousness. InshAllah we’re always optimistic and any situation regardless how negative it may seem can bear good fruits and I pray this is the best attitude to have. Road to hope is on the road to recovery and the best policy is to keep ones intention pure and refrain from becoming involved in such tribulation.

If there was any benefit in discussing in more detail what has taken place I would and maybe on another occasion it may be called for. As for now it’s more important to put the past behind and look forward to what’s ahead of us and concentrating on entering Egypt and then Gaza.

I don’t mean to shed negative light upon this convoy but I’d rather not portray it to be what it’s not and then the reality becomes known. As for me and a lot of other brothers we’re getting on with what we set out to do and inshAllah we’ll get to our final destination.

Other than that we’ve been sitting on the border waiting for news and there’s been much correspondence with various organisations and with the Egyptians regarding us entering Egypt.

The morale of the people is mixed, some are keeping themselves in high spirits reading Quran, cooking with whatever food we have, listening to lectures etc and some feel despondent and have been affected by the uncertainty.

In order to kerb the negativity and raise the spirits and address some concerns regarding Islamic behaviour an Islamic reminder (Mowidha) was held.

It’s essential to remind people about their lord in times where uncertainty settles in especially when you have people from all different backgrounds and understandings.

We’ve occupied the area that we’re staying in is a newly constructed border crossing which is yet to be opened so we have this whole area to ourselves. Outside the building we’re staying is the road that leads in to Egypt which we have the vans parked on and the rest of the area we use either to play football, cook or just chill out in.

In the evening the brothers started racing on the road as its one straight, so when I was challenged I couldn’t refuse. We separated in 4-5 heats and the two winners would go to the next round. MashAllah these things keep the brothers going and it takes the minds off all the pressure and even the police who are with us join in, I think they find us very entertaining. Anyway I’ll give you all the opportunity to guess who was the road to hope 2010 sprinting champion J.

InshAllah tomorrow we hope to have some more information and maybe make some progress if Allah wills and I’ve got so many offers of a rematch from sore losers, so I better conserve my energy and head off to bed.

Layth

Heading towards the Egyptian border

Asalamu Alaykum wr wb

I didn’t really get much sleep last night since I went to sleep after fajr as I had a few personal things that I needed to get on with and as we were in a hotel with all the facilities available I thought I’d seize the opportunity.

Even though we were in a five star hotel I was still contemplating on sleeping in my tent as the brothers I was sharing a room with couldn’t sleep with the air conditioning on and it was really hot in the room. Nevertheless I decided to sleep in the room and get a few hours of sleep before breakfast.

I woke up this morning about 9 o’clock and headed to the food hall to have breakfast, which was the typical breakfast that is eaten in this part of the world, boiled eggs, bread, jam and olives.

After breakfast I was tempted to go for a swim on the beach but we were called in for a meeting where we discussed what the schedule for the day would be.

Soon after we headed out to meet group ‘E’ who had made their way to the border last night and were stationed in compound about 2 kM’s from the border.

Upon arrival things seemed to be not as straight forward as we hoped as the Egyptian authorities weren’t granting us permission to enter.

I felt that entering Egypt wouldn’t be straight forward as initially expected and we were now waiting in the compound that belonged to what seemed like a police station. Alhumdulillah we had the traditional tents which were very comfortable which we ate in and prayed in and relaxed.

I could tell from this moment onwards we’re now entering a waiting game and this is where patience is needed.

Although we had tents there were no other facilities apart from a hut which I was told had a toilet in it. I didn’t even dare to use the toilets fearing the unhygienic condition it may be in.

It was nice to see that everyone started to use their initiative and people gathered whatever food they had in their vehicles along with their cookers and started cooking together. I managed to slip out to a local restaurant and grab some local food which was roasted chicken cooked in those ovens where the chickens rotates, I think their called rotisseries. This type of chicken is very common throughout north Africa and its relatively healthy and at the same time it’s quite tasty. 

When I returned back to the compound I was put in charge of collecting the groups ‘manifesto’s’, which is a list of the contents of the vans. After completing that the athan for maghrib was called and we prayed in a large congregation.

Once we had prayed a reminder was held regarding the day of resurrection and how this ultimately should be considered as ‘the bigger picture’.

When in this situation, you often hear people compromising in their deen for the sake of the ‘bigger picture’ justifying their actions, forgetting that the biggest picture is the Day of Judgment. Whatever we set out to do in life, our actions should be to please Allah and we shouldn’t be prepared to engage in that which is displeasing thinking that we’ll be successful in our endeavours.

Shortly after we were told to head towards our vehicles and head out to another location that is more suitable that was around the corner.

The place we’re currently staying in is a newly set of dorms for workers who work on the border and the building is the last building as you enter Egypt on the border.

The accommodation is sufficient alhumdulillah it has toilets and showers and its spacious and out the front is a tarmac road where the vans are parked.

In the evenings the weather is very pleasant, a cool breeze yet warm enough to wear a t-shirt and just before having a shower and retiring for the night some brothers and non-muslims got together and played a 5 a side football tournament. It’s times like this that brings people together and takes the mind off all of the hardships and uncertainties that comes along with these convoys.

5 Star in Libya

When we arrived at our hostel everyone rushed in with their bags to try to get a room and a jump in the showers as the sand could be felt all over the skin and in the hair. The location of the hostel that we stayed in was called Jabal Akhdar, which is where most of the resistance against the Italians led by Umar Al Mukhtar, took place

Also in this vicinity was an ancient city built by the Greeks and some members of the convoy were taken on an excursion to view the ancient city.

As for me I could barely stay awake and I managed to slip in an hour of sleep after Fajr as I knew we weren’t leaving for a few hours. Unfortunately I missed breakfast which was a cup of coffee and a croissant. As we had a bit of time I managed to slip away with two other brothers and grab an egg sandwich and a few cups of coffee for breakfast. The reason why I say a ‘few’ cups is because the cups are so small and even then they only fill it up half way, so I end up having to drink at least three.

We then made our way to the Libyan/Egyptian border. This is the only area of Libya that we’ve past that is mountainous as for the rest it seems to flat throughout. The scenery was amazing as we passed many ancient abodes that were carved into the sides of the mountains as we weaved our way through the mountain passes.

Eventually we arrived at a 5 star hotel for lunch and we were hosted by various local organisation who insisted that we would feed us as we pass by them on our way to Gaza.

We’ve spent a good few days in Libya and this stretch is taking a great deal of time as we keep being invited by people and organisation who want to express their support for this endeavour.

In the hotel we were served food that you’d expect in a five-star hotel with drinks and desserts, we could get used to this and although we do appreciate it, time is moving on and we wish to press on with the journey to Gaza.

The hotel was a great opportunity to use the internet and everyone after eating rushed around with their laptops and charges looking for a plug socket and a strong signal to upload data and check emails etc.

Before I managed to upload an update and some pictures, we were called to leave and everyone started to get in their vehicles and shortly after we left for our next destination, Tobruk.

Again we were invited for dinner in a sea food restaurant where we met the local people who expressed their support for us and bided us farewell.

On the way to the border, there was some confusion as to where we’d be spending the night. Whilst in Tobruk we were offered to spend the night in a five-star hotel 20 ks from the border although some wanted to spend the night at the border.

After reconciling between we took up the offer of spending the night at the hotel which had its own private beach.

The hotel was in a very isolated location and to get to it we had to descend down a very steel slope that winded down to the hotel.

At the moment I’m just trying to send an update from the hotel and then get off to my room.

Asalamu Alaykum wr wb

Layth

%d bloggers like this: