Female tea vendor in Tahrir Square talks of life and politics

CAIRO: As protests started in Tahrir square two years ago, vendors of everything from gasmasks to tea to flags flocked to the square to supply protesters with anything they may need.

Zeinab, a 33-year-old Egyptian street vendor, has been selling tea at Tahrir Square in Cairo for almost three years since the eruption of the uprising on January 25. She stays with her children in front of the Tahrir entrance from Bab el-Louk street.

“I came with my husband to work with him as a doorman three years ago after the revolution that toppled President Hosni Mubarak. But it was too hard for us because of thick clouds of tear gas that hit my daughter by severe allergy,” Zeinab said.

Zeinab is illiterate but has a political view over the current affairs. “I support Egypt’s army as even millions of Egyptians who pinned their hopes on Morsi are saying now he must go.”

“Lack of security, rising food prices, long fuel lines, and frequent electricity cuts during Morsi’s year in power led many of his supporters to call for his ouster” she added.

She expressed that women’s work participation rate is already increased in Upper Egypt compared to the years of marginalization and hardship before. “At Upper Egypt schools, girls learn and score as good as or better than boys” she said.

“I have 3 kids, I’m struggling to take care of them,” she continued. “If they don’t do well, they won’t get a place in college, that’s why I press them to study well.”

Zeinab is hopeful that the “new Egypt” will continue to bring positive change.

Originally published Masryat. Translated and republished with permission.

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