Everything changed after 15 March

Meaning “the woman with lovely big eyes” in Arabic, ‘Maha’ is a common name in Egypt. Maha Galal has been working as a Social Work Assistant at CRS since mid-2019, as part of the team supporting people impacted by the 15 March Mosque attacks.

“I really love what I’m doing. I feel like I can make a difference in people’s lives.”

Maha worked in Egypt and the United Arab Emirates as a Social Worker for about 10 years before moving to New Zealand in 2014 with her husband and two children (their third child was born here).

The things she misses most from her old life are her family and the Azan (Muslim call to prayer) which makes her feel special. Her Muslim faith is very important to her.

Maha and other participants

Maha had been volunteering with the Muslim Association of Canterbury (MAC) before the Mosque attacks of 15 March 2019, and the work she did with the community in the aftermath of the tragedy led to her employment at CRS. In mid-2019 she started work in the organisation as a Social Work Assistant at the organisation, supporting people impacted by the attacks. 

“The Kiwi people were amazing; something changed in my heart.”

The aftermath of 15 March was the hardest time of her life; nonetheless, Maha notes that some positives have arisen from the event. The most significant of these impacts was the support that the Muslim community received from people locally and internationally. As a result of this demonstration of solidarity, Maha feels connected to Christchurch and New Zealand in a way which she never did before. Whereas she used to feel a bit lonely and only socialise with Egyptians, now she has “friends from everywhere.” In Maha’s view, another positive impact is that New Zealanders have been exposed to and learned about Islam. On a personal level, Maha also feels that her children have become more independent because she has been so busy supporting people in her community.