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Q&A: Sarah Warren in Egypt

February 15, 2011

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Sarah Warren is acutely aware of the needs, challenges and voices of Middle Eastern youth. As Mercy Corps' Director of Global Citizen Corps and Gulf Partnerships, she manages programs that help young people develop their leadership and other critical skills while navigating complex educational and career opportunities in an ever-changing region.

A Mercy Corps veteran who's worked in several countries in the Middle East, Warren is currently traveling in Egypt to assess how the agency can help communities — and youth — through the country's sudden and dynamic transition.

What takes you to Egypt?

Sarah Warren: I came to Egypt to gain a first-hand perspective on the situation for Mercy Corps. It is important to us to be able to hear directly from youth, communities, civic leaders, business people and others about what they are experiencing and what they envision for the future. Together with our colleagues from Bridging the Divide, I will be doing some initial assessment work to determine if there are ways in which Mercy Corps can be of particular help to the Egyptian people as they navigate this historic transition.

What are things like in Egypt right now? What are you seeing and hearing?
When I first arrived two nights ago, the mood in the streets — and especially in Tahrir Square — was electric. It was like a large street festival. There continues to be a palpable sense of excitement and joy in the air. People also seem very proud of what they managed to accomplish, largely through peaceful means.

The situation is starting to normalize, though. People are getting back to work and life. I took a walk through Tahrir Square this morning. All of the protesters were gone and the area was relatively quiet. There continue to be small groups of people that come to the square throughout the day to visit a makeshift memorial to those who died during the protests.

What can Mercy Corps do help Egypt through this transition and after?
This is what we hope to learn by doing this assessment. Mercy Corps has significant expertise in helping communities transition from crisis to development. We will explore ways in which we may be able to make use of our experience and tools to the benefit of Egyptian society.

Who will you be talking to while there? How long will you be there?
Primarily civil society leaders, academic and thought leaders, representatives of the private sector, and youth. I'm currently slated to be here for 10 days but we will play that by ear as the assessment work progresses.

Anything else you'd like to say about the situation and your work there?
It is an honor to be in Egypt witnessing this historic time. It is very moving to see the sense of ownership and pride people demonstrate when talking about their revolution.