My Grandmother's living room

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Winner: 2023 Reviewers Choice Award

If They Move Me ... I Die

Mohamed Hozyen | Egypt

This project sheds light on the human impact that accompanies processes of development and renovations in greater Cairo. While parts of the city grow tall, in their shadows lie the imposed destruction of ancient neighborhoods. This story, depicted through the personal experience of my Grandma, is emblematic of many others’ experiences. She gives voice to those who were pushed aside.

Home, Change, Lost, Memories, Force immigration, Social Fabric

In 2011, the Egyptian authorities decided to demolish all the old ‘informal’ residential buildings and districts across the country – unplanned areas have been inhabited for decades without the authorities getting involved. Since 2016, they have already razed the buildings of over two million people.

My grandmother’s home in Cairo is one of the neighborhoods set to be demolished. My grandmother has lived here since 1952, when she was 14 and married my grandfather. My own childhood and so many of my memories are from this home. My mother was raised here, and we visited often when I was a child. Now that my grandmother’s area is set to be demolished, I don’t want us both to have to experience another loss.

My mother died in 2020. Losing 70 years of my grandmother's memories in this area is opening those wounds of grief all over again, It is like losing another part of myself. My grandmother tells me, “I spent all of my life here in this house.

This area has witnessed all of my ups and downs, This is where I started my life, had my children, and lived happy and sad moments. But now after my kids have left and have their own lives, I’m alone. But I still have my neighbors around me. I’m still surrounded by my neighborhood, the familiar sounds that go on until late into the night, I am old and tired now, I can barely stand and I really don’t want to leave my house. I own this house, why on earth would I leave it and pay rent for a place that isn’t my own? I don’t want to leave from here. This is my soul, my life, my everything. I would love to live in dead silence instead of taking buildings down and forcing me to leave.

My soul goes with this home and area. If they move me…I will die.”


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