Hoda Mroue is a project support fellow based in Cairo, Egypt with the Aga Khan Foundation. Hoda obtained a Master’s degree in Political Science and International Development Studies from the University of Guelph in 2013. She has interned and worked for various non-profit organizations in the US and Canada such as Nike Foundation, World Pulse, and the National Council on Canada-Arab Relations. She has also interned on Parliament Hill in the office of former NDP leader Alexa McDonough. Follow her on twitter @hodamroue
A few weeks ago, I completed a month-long international development seminar with the Aga Khan International Fellowship Program. Each year the program sends young Canadians to spend 8 months in either Africa or Asia to work with agencies and partners of the Aga Khan Development Network. I will be spending eight months in Cairo, Egypt working with the Aga Khan Foundation on various projects.
“UnMosqued” portrayed various scenarios that I have personally experienced as a young Muslim woman in Ottawa. The documentary made me realize that most of us didn’t know that many others are bothered by the same issues in our mosques: the unequal prayer spaces between men and women and the separating wall, the less convenient backdoor entrance for women, the dominance of one ethnic group, male-dominated board members, the lack of and quality of English programs, the awkwardness of interacting with the opposite gender etc. For these reasons and others, I have personally felt disconnected to local mosques or “unmosqued”.
Flashback 15 years earlier, I'd be in my karate outfit, talking to my family in English and broken Lebanese Arabic, and designing all of my school projects into acting scenes to prepare myself for my future acting career. I grew up with friends from all over the world, and we called ourselves “the real United Nations”. I didn't know much about my culture or about my religion, but never missed an opportunity to brag about how Lebanese food was the best!