Since the 3rd grade, it was my dream to travel to Ancient Egypt to see The Grand Pyramids at Giza, The Sphinx, and sail the Nile River. In 2011, I got serious and began planning and preparing to make my dream trip become a reality. Two years later, I purchased my tickets and made travel plans. My family and friends feared for my safety because they perceived Egypt to be a dangerous Middle Eastern country. My experience was the exact opposite of their expectations. When I arrived in Egypt, I was welcomed with open arms as I visited sites in Cairo, Luxor, Aswan, and Abu Simbel.
Last summer, I returned to Egypt to join Anthony and Atlantis Browder to restore Karakamun’s temple in Luxor Egypt, he was a 25th Dynasty high priest responsible for performing sacred rituals for the royal family. Our team’s job was to categorize Karakamun’s temple ceiling fragments so that the ceiling could be restored. Sometimes, before or after we started working, we had the opportunity to visit neighboring sites that were closed to the public. It was an amazing experience to work on the site and see the legacy of my ancestors.
After we finished our work on Karakamun’s site, Browder and several members of the mission traveled south to ancient Nubia (Sudan) to see the ancient ruins at Meroë and Jebal Barkal. I reconnected with my tour guides to revisit several ancient sites and to see a few sites that I missed in 2014. After my first trip, I learned about The Sunshine House, an orphanage founded by Pearl Smith, a retired English woman who sold her home in England and moved to Luxor to establish Luxor’s first orphanage. When I planned to return to Egypt, I knew that I had to visit The Sunshine House and I couldn’t go empty handed. So, before I departed for Egypt, I packed an extra-large suitcase with clothing, shoes, and books for the children. When I arrived at The Sunshine House, Mr. Asmel greeted me and provided me with a tour of the facilities. After meeting the children, I quickly found out that I didn’t have enough donations for everyone. So I began to think of alternative ways to help the children. Several days later, I reflected on my childhood and I remembered how much fun we had during in-class pizza parties. So I asked The Sunshine House staff if I could host a pizza party for the children and they said yes. The children were delighted to see Quick Pizza instead of their normal dinner which consist of beans, falafel, tomato based soup, and pita bread. After dinner, several of the older children asked about life in America and we compared the differences between our countries.
In Aswan, The Nubian Village was my final stop. The Nubians are the cousins of the ancient Egyptians who live in bright colored houses on the Nile River. We sailed down the Nile by motor boat to access The Nubian Village. When I walked into the village, I felt like I was at home. Several of the villagers, many of whom looked like black folk in America came out to welcome us. I donated clothing, shoes, and a laptop for the children in the village. The Nubians were extremely grateful for the donations and invited me to stay overnight. I was unable to stay because of my return trip to Luxor but I promised to return to the village in the future.
During my fourteen hour return flight from Cairo to Atlanta, I had plenty of time to think. The most important lesson from my 2nd trip to Egypt was that dreams come true. When I was a little kid, I dreamed of working on an ancient Egyptian site but I wasn’t sure if my dream was possible. I never stopped dreaming, thinking, and learning about Egypt. As a result of keeping my energy focused on my destination, my dream became a reality. Now, I don’t see dreams as abstract ideas, thoughts, or images. Dreams are untapped internal desires waiting for us to transform them into reality. In 2017, I plan to surround myself with dreamers who are shaping their internal desires into reality.
[Note: The original name for ancient Egypt is KMT or Kemet. All of the sites and people in Kemet were renamed after Alexander III of Macedon conquered Kemet in 332 BC.]