It is with deep and intense sorrow and shock that I share with you the news of Dr. Afaf Marei’s passing on Saturday, April 25th, 2015.
Dr. Afaf was a beloved sister and partner in the Karama family, who had strong convictions and devotion to the issues of women. She was a true leader in Egypt and around the region. She was one of the strongest voices in the region. She was never afraid to express her ideas, or engage situations that were challenging or risky. Ordinary women related to her; she could work with many different types of people, at different levels. She dedicated her life to supporting and amplifying their voices.
Dr. Afaf represented integrity, compassion, and wisdom to everyone who knew her. She was always upfront and straightforward with people, even when it was difficult. She had the biggest heart and with her friendship, you were showered with incredible, unconditional love. It was this compassion that most defined her, and it was for this reason that so many turned to her for advice and guidance. She was an incredible mother, wife, daughter, and sister.
From the time I have known her, Dr. Afaf has weathered tragedy with great strength and optimism. She lost her son too early, but came through it with a greater wisdom. She did not rely on anger, but hope, and this was true too when she learned of her illness. We never knew she was sick until just recently. She kept her pain hidden, sharing instead her wit, intelligence, positivity, and courage with us all.
When I first moved to Cairo, I really needed a lot of guidance. Dr. Afaf was really that person. She introduced me to the right people, and kept me out of harms way. I am indebted to her in so many ways for this. I felt protected and supported, and she made my transition so much easier.
The Karama family and everyone who had a chance to meet Dr. Afaf are shaken and shocked by her sudden and untimely death. Dr. Afaf was our family.
A few words of condolence and remembrance from the Karama family:
With great sadness, sorrow and a very heavy heart we learned about the death of Dr. Afaf Marei. I am really shocked and still cannot believe this very sad news. I am still hearing her voice in New York and her cheerful beautiful laugh is still ringing.
Afaf successfully overcame a lot of obstacles and adversities in her life, represented in the death of her son, and her illness, which we only heard about lately, as she never complained.
Dear Afaf, you were a women of great courage and a strong leader who effectively participated in the development process. You were not just a doctor who cures the physical pain, but also the psychological one. You were such a great, helpful woman, who never failed to meet the expectations of others, especially the beginners who needed your guidance and learned a lot from you.
Dear Afaf, death is the only truth. Only God is eternal and everything else with certitude will perish. Now rest in peace as you have done your duties/ missions/ completed your message in life perfectly. You were such a strong women who always gave from your heart, and never gave up. May your beautiful soul rest in peace.
– Samia El-Hashmi, Co-founder and chairwoman of Mutawinat – Sudan
May Dr. Afaf’s soul rest in peace. I am shocked and devastated by this heartbreaking and sad news. She was sick and we never knew, as she was acting very strong and living her life normally.
God’s mercy on your soul and inspire your family with patience.
– Victoria Shoukry, Program Manager of TAM – Palestine
Afaf, were a great woman leader who will be remembered and will be never forgotten. I love you personally. I love your smile your soul and your kind heart . We all lost you but you will remain in our hearts forever.
– Maya Morsy, Regional Gender Practice Team Leader, UNDP – Egypt
It is with great sorrow that I present my sincere condolences to Karama and [to Dr. Afaf’s] her family. I still can’t bring myself to the fact that we lost a dear colleague, great activist and a wonderful woman who was engaged for years in the development work. It is a great loss for the Arab women’s movement. All my thoughts are for her family.
– Rhizlane Benachir, Head of the Department of International Cooperation – Morocco
May Allah accept all her good deeds and rest her soul in peace and grant her family and loved ones the patience and health to deal with this difficult ordeal in their life. Goodbye, Afaf.
– Amal Basha, Sisters Arab Forum for Human Rights – Yemen
My deep condolence on the behalf of my Libyan Activist colleagues on this wrenching loss, compassion on her soul and may she rest in peace.
– Fatma Ghandour, Journalist and Professor – Libya
As the Director of the Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement, she led work on a groundbreaking study on the economic cost of violence against Egypt. She worked as a trainer in the region and participated in numerous projects on the international scale, working from the outside in and the inside out to build support for gender equality and build the capacities of women to advocate on their own behalf. She did not choose paths that proved easiest but worked to find the most impactful and meaningful avenues for doing her work. For instance, she emphasized working outside of the capital cities and working with ordinary people who represented the priorities, concerns, and basic needs that were a part of their every day lives.
Most recently, Dr. Afaf was a part of the Karama delegation at the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations in New York in March, where she spoke on sexual violence in conflict, discussing challenges, accountability, achievements, and the way forward. She has been a pioneer for women, filling many roles from civil society activist and leader to doctor to trainer. She was the best of the best.
We cannot begin to express how much we will miss her. It is just simply too soon to say goodbye.
We can find solace in knowing that those we love have not left us, but have just passed into another world, and we will forever carry them in our hearts.
May God bless her soul and illuminate her path, and may God give her family the wisdom to accept her passing.