Tribute to Neil Hewison: 31 years at AUC Press

How to describe a friend of nearly twenty years?  Actually, I first met Neil in a professional capacity when the former director of AUC Press, Marc Linz, accepted to publish Cairo The Family Guide, in 1998. During that project, I got to know Neil as a person who was unsparingly generous with his expertise. Over the years, we became friends and I discovered things such as his love for gingerbread and the Egyptian dessert, Om Ali. As years passed, I knew Neil as an avid nature and wildlife photographer, Fayoum farmer, intrepid birdwatcher, Arab literature translator, elephant enthusiast, fellow adventurer, meticulous editor, desert explorer and generous friend. My favorite book that Neil translated (which I have read four times and has all the qualities of a riveting opera) , is The Wedding Night by Yusef Abu Rayya.

Neil’s life spans from England to Egypt to New Zealand brings together many adventures, friends and colleagues. This post and short video is to add to those voices in saying thank you to Neil for his years at American University in Cairo Press.  A sincere and deep wish to Neil that retirement is all and more than his thirty-one years at The Press .


On an American Research Centre Egypt trip to Tanzania.

For more about Neil’s career read: Here’s to you Neil! (October 2017 e-Newsletter)

Read:  Celebrating Neil Hewison: An Excerpt from His Translation of ‘City of Love and Ashes’ by Marcia Lynx Qualey, freelance cultural journalist at Arabic Literature in English

Read:  5 Books: Neil Hewison’s Most Memorable Books from 31 Years at AUC by Marcia Lynx Qualey, freelance cultural journalist at Arabic Literature in EnglishPress

The photo credits and link to the events and photograph in the video are listed below. The e-newsletter and event photographs used in this video are credited to Ingrid Wassmann,

Foiled at the Finish Or Happy Eid el Kabir


August 30th – September 3rd


The plan was on September 1st to leave Turpan by train for Kashgar on a 16-hour overnight sleeper, then to spend 3 days in Kashgar and then drive over the Torugart Pass (3,750 meters) into Kyrgyzstan on 4th of September. Twenty minutes before boarding the train, the news arrived that the Chinese had closed their border with Kyrgyzstan for the next 5 days because of Eid el Kabir. Do I continue onward to Kashgar and hope for the best; hope the border will open one day before my visa expires?  Do I wait in Kashgar but risk being delinquent in exiting China? I was told that there would be a fine incurred if I stayed past my visa date. Having experience in these matters in Africa, I knew, this breach could incur quite unpleasant circumstances to over stay one’s visa deadline. Another concern was that since arriving into Xinjiang Province, the security had noticeably tightened. The Chinese government, worried about problems in this predominant Muslim region, put tight security precautions in place. I knew from experience that one can not expect latitude in these situations, anything out of the ordinary would be questioned. Running through my mind was: do I take the long train ride to Kashgar, spend 24 hours and catch a plane to Urumchi (the capital of Xinjiang Province and closest international airport) and then fly to Beshkik, Kyrgyzstan involving long lay-overs in two airports? Or could the driver and guide who just dropped me at the train station and was heading themselves to Urumchi, return and take me with them on the 2 1/2 hour drive? A quick decision had to be made. I decided rather than to climb the ‘wall’ , the best way -though it meant giving up my goal of traveling completely across China, not seeing Kashgar, and forfeiting a fascinating part of the trip – going around the ‘wall’ was the best decision. So I exited from Turpan railway station. And found myself, several hours later, in Urumchi the capital of Xinjaing Province and on a Southern China Airway’s flight, the next day, to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

So back to Turpan…
It is a city in Xinjiang Provence, an oasis 260 feet below sea level; a city of extremes – harshly hot in the summer and caustically cold in the winters. Yet it is an agricultural city that produces a variety of the finest raisins in China (possibly the world) with 22 percent of sugar.  The grapes are dried in drying house usually on the roofs of houses and hung from the ceiling to be dried by the hot, arid wind.

Fruits, vegetables and cotton (water-needy) are also abundant crops. Yet the city is surrounded by bare, flaming hot mountains where eggs are cooked in the sand.

How is this possible? The discovery was truly amazing…the land is irrigated by an underground canal system known as the Karez System. The Karez is made up of vertical wells, under ground canals, above the ground canals and small reservoirs. A 2000 year underground , man-made irrigation system that captures the melting snow from the high Tien Shan (peaks reach above 5000 metres)  and through underground dug out parallel system of water way-like pipes, the water flows to the lowest part in the oasis. This along with the type of soil gives life to the area that has enticed people to stay, farm, and trade.


Aerial photo of Karaz system

Turpan is in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, a Chinese administrative division that contains up to 37 different ethnic groups including the Uyghur, Kazakhs, Tajiks, Hui, Kyrgyz, Mongols, Han and Russians. This region has the most diversity of ethnic groups than any other region in China. Ancient references call this area the Chinese Turkestan. The people, before Islam, followed Buddhism, the remnants of the religion can still be seen at Bezeklik’s Thousand Buddha Caves, which are an example of portraits of Buddhist religious art. There are 77 caves at the site with the story of Buddha’s life. The faces painted on the walls are as diverse as the ethnic population that one sees on the streets today and as vivid. DSC_0343


Thousand Buddha Caves

Yar City also known as the city of Jiaohe is nearly 2000 years old. It was an important trading post on the Silk Road. It is an independent islet formed by crossing of two river valleys.


Aerial view of Yar City in Turpan

The ancient city was built on a plateau that contained government buildings, Buddhist temples, and private dwellings. An ingenious construction technique was employed by digging downward creating room-like basements and the dug-up soil was used to construct structures on ground level. The city islet (1650 meters in length, 300 meters wide at its widest point) in the middle of a two rivers formed a natural defense, which would explain why the city lacked any sort of walls. Instead, steep cliffs more than 30 metres high on all sides of the river acted as natural walls. The layout of the city had eastern and western residential districts, while the northern district was reserved for Buddhist sites of temples. In the 13th century the area was overrun by Genghis Khan’s army and destroyed although my guide’s story was that the city was destroyed by the introduction of Islam, which divided people’s loyalties and eventually destroying the Buddhist city.DSC_0379DSC_0380

P1010693The Emin Minaret was named after a local Turpan general, Emin Khoja. During the Qing Empire, the general sided with the Qing Empire against the Dzungar Mongols and defeated them. The minaret was completed in 1778 during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor (r. 1735–1796). It was built to honor the exploits of the Turpan general, Emin Khoja. Local craftsmen  constructed the first of its kind minaret  in China using local materials. It is an elegant, circular, tapered Islamic dome, 44 meters high, one of the tallest minarets in China.DSC_0299

The highlight of the Turpan was visiting a women’s workshop/business named BAGRIM, meaning My Heart. Founded by Hawahan Tursun three years ago, she decided that women in the village should continue the Uyghur embroidery craft as well as to make extra money, she opened a workshop to teach and promote handmade Uyghur textiles. Soon, her daughter, Rahile Hoji, joined her mother to help with marketing. Even her grandmother, Hawahan Osman, embroiders Uyghur hats. It takes her 4 days to make one hat. If there is interest in supporting this project by purchasing their products, please email Rahile at or .

Seventy-five year old Hawahan Osman says that the years of her youth were years of starvation.  But today there is plenty of food even too much of everything! She says life in China is good and plentiful.


Grandmother, Hawahan Osman embroider of Uyghur hats


Mother and founder of BAGRIM, Hawahan Tursun; entrepreneurial daughter, Rahile Hoji


Returning to the hotel in the hot afternoon, we came upon the first bread open oven (similar to that of Syria and Egypt) in this trip. A village women was bent over the wood burning brick oven making bread loaves called naan. She waved for us to stop and generously gave us a loaf of bread to share. Hot from the oven, the bread was delightfully chewy with a slightly crunchy, salt and black sesame seeds added to the tastiness.

The last evening dinner in Turpan was enjoyably spent at the home of a Uyghur family. Sitting on the typical raised table in the centre of grape vineyard, the family prepared a scrumptious typical Uyghur meal of a rice dish, noodle soup, chive dumplings, fried-twisted crispy dough with the ever present and ever-replenished  bowl of tea. A meal to remember in Turpan.



The following photos are the guides that insured that my trip was a safe, comfortable, nourishing, knowledgable, and successful 7500 kilometres through China. Each one gave me a piece of their Silk Road to carry with me and savour over the years. I am eternally grateful. Although guiding and driving is their job, they all took pride in showing me their country and I will carry the admirable impressions of China to others along my journey because of their outstanding efforts.

The Silk Road was about migration and transfer of ideas, ideologies, religions, intermarriage, language and trade. It was about invention, movement, and discovery. Walnuts, glass, pomegranates, horses, lions, camel, coloured-glazes (cloisonné), herbs, musical instruments, chairs are just a few of the things introduced to the East. While the East carried porcelain, silk, iron ware, gunpowder, tea, paper, bitter orange to the West. Curious and desirous seeking people took up the journey for profit and power, and survival. There was suffering and hardship; life lived and life lost. The Silk Road then and now, remains the same.


Good-bye Magnificient China!

With the Eastern roads behind, I head West into Central Asia.

Want more information on Uyghurs and Xinjiang Province in China, go to Josh Summers: Far West China. It is excellent!

(all rights reserved, copyright 2017 To copy or re-produce photography and/or writings, written permission from Lesley Lababidi is required)copyscape-banner-white-160x56





Lanzhou to Dunhuang: the Hexi Corridor


August 26th -August 29th, 2017 Llasa-Lanzhou-Dunhuang-Liuyuan (yellow line on map is roughly the Hexi Corridor between Lanzhou and Dunhuang, not to Llasa)


My first introduction to Lanzhou was an overcrowded, polluted, traffic snarling city. Mountains hemming the city in on both sides with the Yellow River dividing the city into east and west, heavy industry with snarling traffic did not leave a reason to return although I knew I would return on my way from Llasa to Dunhuang. But, Lanzhou holds secrets. Get lucky and give her a chance and Lanzhou brings out another side.

Lanzhou, capital of Gansu Province, is considered to have been the gateway to the Silk Road and where this road crossed the Yellow River. Historically, this was the most important route into ancient China to what was known simply as the western Regions and beyond to the west, Central Asia. Everyone, merchants to poets, wanderers to conquers passed through the narrow, 1000 kilometres long strip between Dunhuang and Lanzhou (or visa versa) known as the Hexi Corridor. Sometimes as narrow as 16 kilometres wide and surrounded by inhospitable country of Qilian Shan (mountain) to the south and Gobi Desert to the north, any caravan passing through this track had little freedom of movement. This natural bottleneck or the Throat, opened onto the Mouth of China and anyone making the journey from Central Asia to the fertile lands of China had to pass this way.

Fortresses and beacon towers were built along its length. Even the Great Wall extended as far as the Hexi Corridor. The most western remnants of it can still be seen near Dunhuang to Luyuan as well as some at Jiayuguan (not visited) where the Ming rulers built a magnificent fortress in 1372 and has been renovated to its past glory. Here in this photo, I am between Dunhuang and Luyuan, there are remnants of the Great Wall melting into the desert. FullSizeRenderHere, the walls and fortresses built with mud-bricks rather than like the eastern wall (near Beijing) of stone. These areas were the outer reaches and probably used as places of tax collection or ‘immigration and exit’ points. The Shule River once flowed through here, which would have provided transportation as well as protection, fresh water for people and animals, and a source to make mud for building the wall. Now, there are only black goji bushes and and cemetery from the local village that occupies a spot in the Gobi Desert.


Great Wall and Shule River through Gobi Desert


New road through Gobi

(However, at the end of this post, you will note a new ‘great wall’ in the Hexi Corridor.)

After a 25 hour train ride from Llasa, I was looking forward to the in-room foot salt-bath that had been prepared on my first visit to Ningwozhuang Hotel. The hotel is grand and I was told it was for ‘big potatoes’ assuming that meant for official visits. I wasn’t sure how I got a reservation, but certainly, it was one of the finest hotel rooms that I have ever stayed at! (Here the wifi was the strongest that I encountered throughout China.)

The five days while I was in Llasa, it had rained in Lanzhou. The Yellow River was red with silt from the mountains. Even the Bingling Si Caves (see ‘Previously, in Xi’an’ post) which I had visited two weeks previously were closed due to the rough waters of the Yellow River, which had to cross to get to the site. So I was lucky to have seen these caves.
This day is was cloudy with a chance of rain so we headed to the Lanzhou – Gansu Provincial Museum. IMG_3784What a treasure of information and beautifully presented – chronological, interactive, well-lit, labelled in English and Chinese (definitely museums around the world could learn from this museum)!  I would see one of Gansu national treasures, The Flying Horse, a Chinese bronze sculpture that perfectly balances on one leg from the Eastern Han probably the 2nd century CE. Discovered in 1969 near the city of Wuwei, Gansu Province. IMG_3787The Silk Road exhibit, magnificent Quran of the Qing Dynasty and the ancient pottery exhibit was most informative. I was enthralled with the patterns found on pottery (BCE) and the similarities to the patterns found on calabashes in Northern Nigeria. Although probably no connection, the recognition of these patterns were most interesting to me. (When I return to Cairo, I will add to this post the comparison of patterns found on calabashes to these patterns.)IMG_3793IMG_3804

After many inquiries about handcrafts in Lanzhou and the difficulty of getting past the excuse ‘that there is no parking’, we are dropped off at a walking street that offers as many international brand stores as in London. My guide turns off into a quiet alleyway and facing me is a Confucius Temple. IMG_3809Within the alleyways are small stores that offer supplies for calligraphy art, stamp and coin collector shops, and a calabash store. Here, artists have worked for centuries carving beautiful scenes onto tiny to giant calabashes.P1010503

I meet Mr. Chang who had just sat down to a bowl of noodles. He offers to share his lunch with me and invites me into the next room where his wife is pulling dough into noodles and placing them in an electric pot full of aromatic broth. Lots of vegetables were sliced up on the table and entered this delightful hotspot. We dawdled and talked, laughed and joked, of course through a translator. Mr. Chang sat me down and tried to teach me his art. With his tools, I tried to make a scratch on the calabash but could not and fearing the knife would slip and I would cut myself, I gave up rather quickly but not without a keen appreciation for his art and craft.IMG_3823

Then off to lunch at the Yellow River Romantic Garden Restaurant looking over youth playing football and beyond the Yellow River. This restaurant’s speciality is for weddings and beside our table was a wedding party enjoying many, many toasts to good life and fortune.


Here I was introduced to pre-packaged 8-treasure tea or sanpaotei! A mug glass filled with all the dried ingredients: green tea, goji beans, walnuts, ju-jube, chili, chrysanthemum blossom, rose hip, rock sugar , wrapped in plastic, and all ready for boiling water, refills free.I was not sure who then owns the glass mug but I left it behind.

Then off to another railway station and another overnight train (13 hours) to Dunhaung. (This time I had an in-suite toilet!)


Dunhuang is at the western end of the Hexi Corridor near the historic junction of two arms of ancient Silk Road coming from the west, one around the north, and the other around the south of the Taklmakan Desert. The Silk Road routes from China to the west passed to the north and south of the Taklamakan Desert, and Dunhuang lay on the junction where these two routes came together. Additionally, the city lies near the western edge of the Gobi Desert, and north of the Mingsha Sand DunesDSC_0012 (whose name means ‘gurgling sand’ or ‘singing dunes’, a reference to the noise of the wind over the dunes), making Dunhuang a vital resting point for merchants and pilgrims travelling through the region from all directions.

As such, Dunhuang played a key role in the passage of Silk Road trade to and from China, and over the course of the first millennium AD, was one of the most important cities to grow up on these routes.  Dunhuang initially acted as a garrison town protecting the region and its trade routes, established in the 2nd century BC by the Chinese Han dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD). Yü Guan or “Jade Gate” and the Yang Guan, or “Southern Gate” are names of ancient passes along the medieval highway that illustrate the strategic importance position  of Dunhuang.

Over many centuries Buddhist monks, initially traveling from the west, created a sanctuary in hundreds of caves armed out of the dry cliff faces at Dunhuang, where an oasis provided water and the means of growing food. Buddhist monks from India and China traveled this road, and Dunhuang became a repository of Buddhist wisdom and art through the thousand years of trade on the Silk Road.(Also at Turpan’sBezeklik’s Thousand Buddha Caves and the Bingling Si caves outside of Lanzhou clearly illustrate the movement of Buddhism). Eventually, caves were painted and statues incorporated onto the walls and scriptures written as a holy Buddhist resting area. The earliest carvings and frescoes are reminiscent of Indian art, while later dynasties’ artists used different techniques and portrayed figures of their Chinese contemporaries.

DSC_0028The Mogao caves hold one of the greatest storehouses of Buddhist art in the world. That is, they did, until the beginning of the last century when they were pillaged by highly respect European archaeologists carted Buddhist wall painting off to public and private galleries and museums,but then, the Cultural revolution and extremist Islam have also done damage, too. The grottoes spread for 1700 metres along a canyon wall. At the peak of their use, during the Tang Dynasty, AD619-907, they housed 18 monasteries, more than 1400 monks and nuns and countless artists, calligraphers, and translators. All this creativity was funded by private donations. At the height of its glory there were more than 400 caves at Dunhuang now only eight caves, selected in rotation from among that number are open to visitors at any one time. The caves became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

Going through the towns bazaar in mid-day was not a good idea as everyone is having a siesta but my guide knows my interest in crafts and he suggests visiting his home to meet his mother and father. His mother makes hand-made shoes for children and sells them in the Saturday/Sunday markets. So with a rare invitation, we enter our guides home and enjoy a few hours seeing how these shoes are made.

In Dunhaung the most western section of The Great Wall of China rises in sections of dusty remembrance of the past. Wikipedia says: “A comprehensive archaeological survey, using advanced technologies, has concluded that the Ming walls measure 8,850 km (5,500 mi).[4] This is made up of 6,259 km (3,889 mi) sections of actual wall, 359 km (223 mi) of trenches and 2,232 km (1,387 mi) of natural defensive barriers such as hills and rivers.[4]Another archaeological survey found that the entire wall with all of its branches measures out to be 21,196 km (13,171 mi)spans.”

Eastern Great Wall near Beijing:

P1000403Most Western Great Wall near Dunhaung


As I leave Dunhaung for the train station in Luyuang to travel 4 hours to Turpan, I am struck with another, modern Great Wall and provides an example of the continuous improvements in infrastructure that China invests: 200 kilometres of wind mills along the Hexi Corridor.

DSC_0113(all rights reserved, copyright 2017. To copy or re-produce photography and/or writings, written permission from Lesley Lababidi is required)copyscape-banner-white-160x56

Announcement: Lecture at Megawra, February 28, 2017


For those in Cairo and interested in the chronological growth of city walks in Cairo, Egypt, from 1970-2016, tracing initiatives (individual and organizational) across ten criteria, Shaimaa and I are presenting our paper that we unveiled for the event that was organized by Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage, University of Birmingham, Inheriting the City, April 2016. Lecture is in Arabic, slide show in English. See post, “Conference, Inheriting the City’ here; and at Shaimaa’s newsletter:

Conference Paper: City Walks: Another Perspective for Narrating the City

Conference: Inheriting The City

IMG_1042Inheriting the City: Advancing Understandings of Urban Heritage

March 31 – April 4, 2016, Taipei, Taiwan

Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage, University of Birmingham, is pleased to announce our next international conference. We invite academics, policy makers and practitioners to consider the ways that heritage is being protected, managed and mobilised in rapidly changing and pressurised urban contexts. This multidisciplinary conference will explore the type of heritage, both tangible and intangible, that cities and towns will pass to future generations, and the processes through which the heritage of cities is being re-made, re-presented and re-used.


Above photo: Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, Taipei, Taiwan– The venue for the conference.

This conference brought 200 professionals together from 40 countries to present papers on a variety of urban heritage issues from adaptive reuse of urban heritage to approaches to conservation of Chinese language, the 5-day conference was as diverse as it was inspiring. See program here.

The conference presented an opportunity to get out from behind the computer and meet, face to face, the people who work at preserving culture, saving heritage, and sometimes remembering heritage lost.

IMG_1069Fervor Troupe

Shaimaa Ashour, Egyptian architect, and I collaborated on the project, #City Walks: Another Perspective for Narrating the History of the City. Cairo, Egypt.  The research covered the chronological growth of city walks from 1970-2016, tracing initiatives (individual and organizational) across ten criteria. The analysis of city walks as a cultural heritage activity in Cairo emphasized individual and community initiatives that defines many facets of Egyptian heritage. A paper follows this presentation.


Shaimaa, myself, and Professor Mike Robinson, University of Birmingham in front of Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall

Alone in Taipei for a Day

“To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world” – Freya Stark

I have a day on my own in Taipei with no personal guide and no language skills; a dislike for public transportation (walking is quite acceptable) and a joy of discovery. I have a list: Buddhist temple. Paper Culture Museum. Traditional Tea House. Elephant Hill. Forget fumbling for directions on a smartphone. The receptionist at the hotel writes directions in Chinese on an old-fashion piece of paper.


Longshan Temple: I visited the night before with a study group so prepared with a little knowledge, I sat for an hour and observed, peacefully, the comings and goings and follow the lingering incense smoke connecting spirit to spirit.IMG_1101

IMG_1076SuHo Memorial Paper Culture Museum: Founded the Chang Chuen Cotton Paper Plant in 1940 by Chen SuHo and his wife, they were killed 50 years later in a plane crash. Their children opened this paper museum in their memory. Walking through the museum, one examines various paper’s made from a variety of bark and fibers. At the top floor crossing onto the roof of another building is a bamboo traditional house that carves out a quiet place in the midst of the city.


Back on street level, I could not resist the aroma of strong coffee wafting from an open doorway. Chat Coffee. Watching movement on the street and then spotted revolving parking plates: a car drives onto the plate and it turns 45 or 90 or 180 degrees to position the car for a parking space.

Not to be missed are a variety of man-hole covers that decorate the city sidewalks…

Wistaria Tea House located in a Japanese-style 1920 wooden house serves Taiwanese tea in traditional Chinese and Japanese tatami rooms. The service gracious and unassuming, lingering over fine tea and pineapple cakes is a grand way to spend a few thoughtful hours. Afterwards, an art exhibition raising money for a children’s violin group: The Light of Taiwan

Elephant Hill ( aka Nangang District Hiking Trail) rises quickly 400 meters above Taipei. Determination is all that is needed to climb the uneven stone steps to the top of the hill for great views of Taipei skyline and Taipei 101.


Back to the best little hotel in Taipei: Royal Biz Hotel, to greet the friendly staff, sleep on satin sheets in a sparkling clean room, enjoy an extraordinary breakfast located in the heart of the city.

IMG_1138Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall during cherry blossoms season

More Reflections:

Conference Paper: City Walks: Another Perspective for Narrating the City



statues,moon,sinai 099


An unfinished tapestry, pushed deep into the unlocked drawer, brought unshed tears to her eyes. After her grandmother’s death, the unowned tapestry was now hers to keep or, perhaps, upkeep.

The granddaughter unjammed the drawer, unwrinkled the unvalued tapestry and tugged at it, slowly, to unravel an unloved memory.

Her grandmother had worn the hijab when she unfortuitously was forced to flee. She was unbearably young, unable to unidentify herself from the only life she had ever known.

She had untangled, untamed dreams. But in her flight, unwontedly flushed with misery, those ungratified desires were undreamt.

It was someone, unremembered, who pushed the cloth and needle into her hands. “Here, stitch and stitch and don’t look up. Unthink what you thought, unclench strings of yesterday.”

Her un-shining needle pricked the un-colorful cloth.

Each day when an unfed child cried, she undecorated the embroidered cake she would never eat.

When the rain unrestrainedly covered the ground, she unstitched the coat she would never wear.

When a mother moaned, she unwrote the poem she would never read and unmeasured the music she would never sing.

When unutterable screams surged through the un-dawned day, she unclimbed the mountain she would never see.

The granddaughter cradled the unfinished tapestry in her arms. Her fingers unexpectedly pulled a thread, undoing one stitch and then another.

Unwinding undreamt; for her grandmother’s true tapestry was sewn with love.

*Undreams ,won an international poetry contest sponsored by Persimmon Tree. Published at

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See American University in Cairo Press website: 




On the night of April 14, 2014, over 200 girls were kidnapped from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State, Nigeria, by terrorists.

Boko Haram has abducted 2,000 girls, women since 2014 –Amnesty

“Undreams” is for all those imprisoned in exile, forced from their homes, separated from friends and family, their way of life banished—the Palestinians, the Syrians, the Chibok girls and millions more…

Read Malala Yousafzai’s “My Open Letter to the Abducted Chibok Schoolgirls.”


Sign Petition to commission monument to remember abduction of women and children in Nigeria. This monument is a constant reminder of human failure to protect the innocent. Not a popular concept for a government or nation but a reminder that might stir actions in the hearts of those able to protect.

*Copyright 2015 by Lesley Lababidi. All rights reserved. To copy or re-produce photography and/or writings, written permission from Lesley Lababidi is required.copyscape-banner-white-160x56

2015 – Cheers to a New Year!

To my loyal followers, thank you for your comments, interest, time and shared love for Egypt and Nigeria. To those of who travel through this blog, I hope you enjoy your visit and return soon. To everyone this is my sincere wish for you in 2015:

Wishing you adventurous days and carefree days,
silent days and exciting days,
simple days and triumphant days,
hopeful days and healthy days,
that each day is a precious day.


Sailing a dhow, off the coast of Zanzibar.

Sailing a dhow, off the coast of Zanzibar -2014.

Making resolutions is a cleansing ritual of self assessment and repentance that demands personal honesty and, ultimately, reinforces humility. Breaking them is part of the cycle. -Eric Zorn