A Frantic Phone Call From Egypt and a Feeling of Helplessness

Jersey City elementary school teacher Aliaa Gouda woke at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday and found she had missed 10 calls from Egypt.

When she called back the number belonging to her long-time friend Samer Abdel Kalder she heard crying and screaming. Kalder, 41, said she was standing in Tahrir Square surrounded by people with sticks, knives and guns, and had reached out to her friend in New Jersey so that at least one person knew what was going on in case she didn't survive.

"I am so upset," said Gouda, 34, who lived in Egypt for 21 years, has been in the U.S for 12 years and teaches English as a second language.

"I am so, so, so upset. I wish I can be there, at least give support. I am one person. But I'm sure all Egyptians in America want to be there right now."

Gouda tried calling her friend back shortly after they ended their conversation. She couldn't get through. Sitting at her home in New Jersey, Gouda turned on the TV and saw supporters and opponents of President Hosni Mubarak throwing stones, bottles and firebombs at each other. She again got no answer when she tried calling back.

Gouda logged onto Facebook, hoping to find more friends from Egypt online. She was relieved to find Kalder online, although her messages were hardly hopeful.

“I am so depressed," Kalder wrote. "I'm crying all the time."

Reporting by Brigid Bergin