FRANKLIN PARK, formerly of QUEENS, NY - MAHA FAYEK, died on Tuesday, January 5, 2021, at University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro, after a courageous battle with cancer. She was 56.
Surviving are her father, Gamal Fayek, mother, Cha Mansour and brother, Sherif Fayek, all of Egypt.
Maha was a journalist and radio producer for over 35 years. Born in Alexandria, Egypt, she graduated from the French Literature Faculty of the University of Alexandria.
At the beginning of her career, she spent 10 years in France while she was preparing her Masters, and had written hundreds of articles and conducted countless number of interviews and reportages to Radio France International (RFI), France Culture, Le Nouvel Observateur, Le Figaro, Le Monde and many others.
She relocated to Queens, NY, in August 2000, on a diplomatic visa, to work for the United Nations in Manhattan, NY, until her death.
Maha's work was her biggest passion, she believed in what the real core mission of the UN should be, and she fought her very best trying to contribute to this organization reaching its goals, even in the toughest episodes of her illness, and despite internal rivalries and conflicting personal and regional interests in this big complex organization. Through her professional life, she produced and created a considerable number of interviews, exceeding several thousands, made with politicians, writers, artists, human rights advocates from all over the globe. She covered all the topics which were close to her heart: the legitimate rights of women, their liberation from male domination, the exploitation of the great powers to third world and African countries, social inequalities and political injustices, as well as various fields of art: musical, architectural, cinematographic, philosophical and some with great contemporary thinkers, either in French, English or Arabic language.
In In Central African Republic's Bangui, were she worked for 3 years in a UN peace keeping mission, she created the most important radio station of the region, "Guira FM", through which she gave voice to the central African population, broadcasting everything related to politics, socio-cultural, socio-political problems, daily life issues, which actively contributed in reconciling and advocating for peace, in a country torn by tribal conflicts and religious tensions. If there is one attribute that anybody would agree on regarding Maha, it's her being a FIGHTER for whatever cause she believes is just and worth fighting for.
Maha had an aggressive cancer diagnosis since 2016. Except for her brother and her mother, she preferred to hide it from all her friends, colleagues and family, sparing them sorrow and worries, refusing her illness would come in the way of living life to the fullest , and sharing without reserve best moments with those who loved her.
A Mass for Maha will be held this Friday January 8th, at 10:00 AM, at St. Augustine of Canterbury R.C. Church, Kendall Park. Burial will follow in Elmwood Cemetery, North Brunswick, under the direction of The BRUNSWICK MEMORIAL HOME, East Brunswick.
For directions, please see the "Services" page. Tributes and online condolences could be posted through "Tributes" page, or sent to the funeral home to be forwarded directly to Maha's family.
3 people have supported the family by purchasing them flowers or gifts from the Healing Registry.
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When I arrived at the United Nations Radio in October 2001, Maha guided me through UNHQ and helped me familiarize with the institutional media. She did it with great professionalism and commitment. I met her again a few years later, while working for UNOCI, in Abidjan. Throughout the years, her love for radio remained intact, as she engaged at MINUSCA' s Guira FM.
It is with great sadness that I was informed that she lost her last battle with cancer. I offer my condolences to her family. May her soul rest in peace!
Bien Chère Maha.
Je te connais depuis l'année 1991. Tu étais venue à Paris étudier durant 1 an au C.F.P.J. parfaire ton métier de journaliste.
Journaliste, est ce un métier ou une vocation ?
A l'heure où je t'écris, je pense que journaliste est une vocation. Tu as embrassé cette vocation de journaliste avec tout ce qu'elle comporte : curiosité,goût de l'aventure, amour des êtres humains. Maha, toutes ces valeurs, tu les possèdes dans ton coeur. Tu as travaillé pour le journal l'Humanité dont le siège se trouve dans la ville de Saint Denis dans le département de la Seine Saint Denis. Saint Denis est une ville que tu aimes beaucoup. Tu as fait des reportages pour le journal Le Parisien qui est un quotidien.. Tu es partie en Irak, la Jordanie etc... Comme tu le disais souvent " j'aime beaucoup être sur le terrain ".
Tu as collaboré dans différentes radios ; France Culture, R.FI.(Radio France International ). Je me souviens que tu avais interviewé le chanteur Georges Moustaki originaire d'Alexandrie pour R.F.I..
Très Chère Maha, tu as ce regard libre et ouvert sur les diverses cultures de ce monde, sur l'humanité. Tu as toujours eu un coeur ouvert et généreux pour m'écouter. Nous avons eu des discussions enrichissantes.
Continuons la route ensemble!!!!!!!!
Ville de GONESSE FRANCE
On behalf of H.E. Ambassador Mohamed Edrees, Permanent Representative of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the UN, and members of the Mission, I would like to extend our sincere condolences to Maha’s family, friends and colleagues. We all pray to God to bless her with mercy and bestow patience and strength on her family and friends.
Mission of Egypt to the UN
Good day to everyone!
I am a security supervisor within the United Nations Headquarters, New York, who was informed of the passing of Maha last night by a colleague. I did not know her personally but the officer who informed me reminded me, as her colleague had also stated that she was one of the last persons to leave the UN almost evey night. She would pass by the officers at the entrance post with her usual smile and wave a cab down disappearing into the night without a trace.
I remember several staff union meetings that I sat in as a spectator, where I was particularly struck by her words, her independence and her devotion to the staff and organization. She often spoke truth to power, in my eyes, during these meetings and I knew that the passion of her statements and love of the organization was impenetrable.
So, today upon hearing the passing of a woman whose strength, conviction and determination in my eyes desires praise and my deepest admiration, my deepest expression of sympathy to the family of a woman, a representative and person who capture the minds and hearts of all those who came in contact with her, whether near or far. May she Rest In Peace in the kingdom where her elders await her for the welcoming home. God bless her family and keep them strong during this time of need.
Captain William Ball
United Nations Security
Je ne l'ai rencontrée qu'une fois il y a très longtemps.. Elle était une jeune journaliste et elle travaillait pour Radio France International.. Elle était venue interviewer quelques étudiants de la fac des Lettres, durant un stage d'été, et j'en faisais partie.. J'avais été scotchée par sa personnalité, son assurance, son accent, son charisme... Par la suite j'ai toujours été admirative de sa carrière, de son indépendance... Elle a fait sa vie loin des sentiers battus, en privilégiant le cœur et en se moquant des superflus... Et ben chapeau !
Sa disparition a été sans doute précoce mais au moins elle aura donné un sens à sa vie et laissé des traces indélébiles dans le cœur de tous ceux qui l'ont connue...
Sincères condoléances à ma chère Dr. Cha et à toute la famille.. Que Dieu vous donne la force et la patience... ❤️
Repose en paix Maha 💖⭐💖
NOS SINCERES CONDOLEANCES A Mme CHA, M.GAMAL ET CHERIF. QUE LE SEIGNEUR VOUS DONNE LE COURAGE ET LA FORCE DE SURMONTER SON ABSENCE PHYSIQUE. ELLE RESTERA A JAMAIS DANS VOS COEURS. NAILA, MARIE-LISE ET YOUSSEF CHALHOUB.
Our sincere Condolences to professor Cha, Mr>Gamal and Dear Cherif. So saddened by this departure. May She rest in Peace . Words cannot heal such a wound nor prayers but Time. We are sharing your sorrow dear Friends. Naila, Marie-Lise and Youssef Chalhoub.
Deepest condolences to the family on the loss of Maha. Maha was a force of nature whom I came to know well over our years in the United Nations Radio Service. She entered a room and you were aware of her presence and her opinion. She worked long and hard hours and took pleasure and pride in what she produced. She was highly intelligent and read voraciously. Maha questioned everything and everyone, she did not just merely accept that this was how things were. She thought outside the box and was passionate about the causes and things she believed in. This sometimes made it difficult for her to let go of something she may have been wrong about. She marched to her own drummer and had her own inimitable sense of style. She had a big caring heart that led into getting involved with staff matters and helping others. She gave generously of her time and even materially to those in need. Her love of life, her energy and enthusiasm gave her an almost child like quality but underneath that smiling face was a strong, determined young woman. It does not surprise me to learn that she continued to work in spite of her illness. She was had a warrior spirit that would have kept her going as long as she had breath and strength. I pray she did not suffer and that she felt the love of her family and friends who were dear to her. I am blessed to have known her and to have shared many evenings in the office together as we were usually two of the last to leave. I wish the family strength and comfort during these difficult days. May her soul rest in peace and rise in glory.
Maha was one of a kind;she had imparted lots of great lessons to whoever she meets as her kindness, purity, and the positive energy she had spread to everyone around .We indeed lost a great remarkable person as she was different and unique in so many ways .Our deepest condolences from the Sourial's family .
We met at the end of summer 1990 in Paris. We all came from different parts of the world and Maha was one of the youngest journalists who had won the fellowship that year. Her laughter as her energy could fill the room and she had the advantage that she spoke french better than most of us. We will miss her. We send our deepest condolences to her parents and family. The class of 1990-91 of Journalists in Europe sends its condolences to her parents, siblings and family in this time of grief. She was loved and respected by all.
Mes sincères condoléances a Mme Cha, Sherif et toute la famille
Repose en paix ma chere amie d'enfance
Très Chère Chafika, et cher Sherif, cher Gamal
nous sommes toutes tournées vers vous, vers chacun de vous en ce jour. Dans ce long, si long chemin parcouru, avec Maha, voici qu'elle est passée au-delà, vous laissant si seuls et dépouillés de sa présence.
oh soyez sûrs de notre fidèle et forte amitié.
j'ai mis au tableau de communauté, trois photos, l'une de Shafika donnant un baiser à Gamel, l'autre de Shafika sur le balcon de votre appartement, à Alexandrie, au soleil couchant, la troisième, avec Sherif et Shafika dans le vieux Caire;
Vous êtes au milieu de nous, et nous vous environnons de prière
votre soeur Mireille et la Communauté des diaconesses.
firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
je pense à toi, dont j'ai connu, jeune, l'impertinence et l'insolence que tu jouais avec une joie superbe mais qui préfigurait déjà la femme libre qui se construisait, à Paris, sous l'oeil bienveillant de Cha et de ses amis. Tu as suivi ta voie brillamment avec tout le courage et la volonté que demande ce contexte de travail avec tous ses enjeux de pouvoir. J'ai prié pour toi et je pense fort à toi et à tous les tiens qui perde une personne chère et remarquable...qui me manque
This is one time when one can’t find words to say as the feelings are overwhelming. But Maha was INDEED an amazing person, an inspiring role model who despite her short life accomplished what very few people would do. Rest in peace. I am very sure where you are, celebrating Christmas where eternal peace and joy reign. My deepest condolences go to your special family.
Encore tes mots et tes conseils restent dans ma tête et dans mon esprit. Maha qui ne portait jamais un masque et qui disait les choses directement sans retouche sans diplomatie. Tu es toujours courageuse et vraie . Ton esprit me guidera le reste de ma vie .
Sad bryond words. But you were with her till the end.
Maha's passing is a very sad news. I have known Maha for 12 years while working in the News and Media Division at HQ.
Ce que Maha evoque pour moi ,c'est d' abord une tres belle voix, une voix qui touchait une large audience car Maha racontait des histoires , avec justesse, creativite et sensibilite et etait proche de son public et proche des gens. Maha avait aussi une presence et une personalite de celle qui n' avait pas peur avec des eclats, comme les passionnees et les gens qui expriment leurs valeurs avec fougue et ont le courage de dire ce qu'ils pensent et d' affronter quiconque pour ce qu' ils croient.
I am sending my heartfelt condolences for her parents and her brother. Caroline Petit (Brussels).
It is with profound sadness that I leant today of the passing of Maha.
Maha, tu nous fais encore un coup, reine des surprises. Cette fois-ci pourtant, tu ne nous fais pas rire comme d'habitude, mais tu as choisi de t'envoler, legere, vers la plenitude et la musique du coeur, et tu vas continuer a raconter des histoires, la-haut, c'est sur!
I shared a cubicle with Maha at UN Radio French in 2004-2005 - beyond the office space, our backs to the Chrysler Building, we shared a love of radio as a human connector and a storyteller. I remember the many laughs, the scrambles for the deadline, the headaches or the woman-to-woman conversations. During my time at the radio, she welcomed me like the elder, supportive sister she remained, and demonstrated this larger than life character of hers, full of humanity, with a big heart, but also a fighter's spirit. I remember when Maha started Escales, and pushed for more storytelling and reportage, which was really needed. She was often the one on the other side of the phone line when I was out on reportage overseas, always encouraging, living the stories herself. She was a story. She didnt care if people talked about how she dressed, or criticized her ideas: she followed her track. Of course she was passionnate about what she was doing, and with that comes friction, emotion. But what the heck... what she did with Guira FM was amazing, and there in Bangui, she left a legacy, friends and colleagues who respect her drive and her - tough - choices.
Chapeau Maha, tu m'as laisse personne indifferent, et tu en as embarque beaucoup dans ton coeur. J'ai tellement envie d'entendre ton rire!
Je t'embrasse bien fort et danserai pour toi,
UN Radio 2004-2005
DPO Strat Comm
So very sad to see this and to hear of Maha's passing. We all spent a magic year together in Paris at JE _ Journalists in Europe - and we recently re-connected on a virtual call and it was so good to see her. With kind wishes of condolence and sympathy to her dear family and friends and thoughts of better and happier times in Paris with Maha x- Helen Shaw (Ireland)
Maha, ma grande amie, tu restes présente dans mon coeur. Toute mon affection à Chafika à Gamal à Shérif . Patricia GONESSE FRANCE
Kind, brilliant, courageous, pure, just a few words that could describe Maha but won’t be enough.
I wish Maha could see all the messages written to her. I wish she knew how many people saw her as a staunch advocate for justice and truth. I’m lucky to have known Maha and to be her friend. I find it very difficult to write about her. What an incredible loss. Every kind and strong word could describe her and that wouldn’t be enough. Thank you, Maha for making people around you feel special and loved. My deepest heartfelt condolences for Maha’s parents, Mrs. Mansour and Mr. Fayek and brother Sherif. May you find comfort and strength. That what Maha would want.
We met Maha in the Journalist for Europe (JE) fellowship in 1990. She immediately stood out for her sense of humor and assign for defending anything to do with women’s rights. We were 32 journalists from 24 countries and she always had a kind word for all. We send her family our condolences and wish of peace this painful times. Stefan Schaaf (Germany JE ) and Pía Díaz (Chile JE)
Message à Maha
C’est avec les larmes que je t’écris ces quelques mots pour te témoigner ma reconnaissance après toutes les années passées depuis qu’on s’est connus en 2014.
Tu as été pour moi une mère, une grande sœur et un guide dans le système des Nations Unies. De tes conseils, je retiens l’amour du prochain, l’intégrité et surtout le professionnalisme.
Je me souviens du jour où, après avoir demandé les différentes fréquences, tu as pris ton temps pour écouter toutes les radios de la RCA de l’époque (2014). Ta conclusion a été nette car la crise que tu as en face est pire que celle de la Cote d’Ivoire et ne mérite pas un studio de production radiophonique mais une station radio pour une meilleure contribution en faveur de la paix et du vivre ensemble, d’où nécessité de modifier le projet initial.
Qu’est-ce que tu n’as pas reçu comme difficultés après ta volonté de changer un tel projet. Tu t’es battue jusqu’au plus haut sommet du système en réussissant ton projet alors que, voyant les différentes pressions, il m’est arrivé plusieurs fois de te dire de laisser car les difficultés sont énormes. Merci aussi à l’ancien chef de la MINUSCA le Général Babacar Gaye et à l’ancien patron des Casques bleus Hervé Ladsous pour leurs appuis.
Je me souviens de tes appuis multiformes aussi bien à mon égard qu’à l’égard des collègues car ton humanisme dépasse le cadre professionnel et tu ne voulais pas voir les gens dans des difficultés, même des gens qui ne sont pas tes collègues.
Unique en ton genre, tu as été contre l’injustice, contre les critiques à l’endroit des absents, bref tu as été une combattante pour un monde juste et paisible.
En ce jour où tu nous quittes, puisse le miséricordieux t’accueillir dans son paradis pour tout ce que tu as été sur cette terre des hommes.
Avant de terminer, reçois les reconnaissances de tes consœurs et confrères journalistes de la République centrafricaine pour qui tu as été l’exemple de journaliste chevronnée. Un message transmis par le Vice-président de l’Union des Journalistes de Centrafrique (UJCA) en la personne de Jean-Fernand Koena. Je pense que ce nom te rappelle beaucoup de choses étant donné que dans toutes les cérémonies tu voulais retrouver Jean-Fernand afin d’échanger avec lui car c’est un homme libre qui dit ce qu’il pense.
Tu t’es battue pour que les Centrafricains des quatre coins du pays puissent avoir droit à la parole et tu as réussi à mettre en place Guira FM, la plus grande radio de la République centrafricaine.
Vas en paix Maha, tes collègues et amis de Centrafrique ainsi que les auditeurs de la Radio Guira FM te seront toujours reconnaissants.
Mes sincères condoléances à la famille biologique de Maha et à ses collègues du siège des Nations Unies.
“Avant tout, je présente mes condoléances à la famille et aux proches de Maha. On s’est rencontré la première fois à la Radio des Nations Unies, elle dans la section française et moi dans l’unité portugaise. Elle m’appelé Balthazar et a continue à le faire ici à Bangui où nous avons travaillé ensemble. De Maha, je garde le souvenir d’une professionnelle infatigable entourée d’une petite équipe dans deux miniscules studios mais avec des résultats excellents, notamment la couverture du référendum constitutionnel et des élections de 2015. L’image que je garde d’elle c’est celle survenue la veille de l’arrivée du Pape François en RCA à la résidence de l’actuel Cardinal de Bangui où, au milieu de tous ces évêques de l’intérieur de la RCA et de pays voisins, elle recueillait les témoignages avec fierté. Des témoignages pour entretenir l’espoir des auditeurs de Guira FM et des Centrafricains, des mots pour contribuer à la paix en RCA. Que ton âme repose en paix, Maha.”
Vladimir Monteiro, Porte-parole de la MINUSCA
I was deeply saddened to learn of Maha's passing. Although I had not seen her since I left the UN, I will always remember her as a dear friend and colleague who approached everything she did with great passion. My sincere condolences to Mahas family that I had the honor of meeting some years back. May the Lord comfort you and give you peace.
Rest in perfect peace dear Maha.
In the face of death, all words are meaningless. No words, anyway, could fully describe Maha and her kindness and great love for life, joy and laugter. No one her logical thought, inqusitve mind, discerning taste, her passion for life and work and her compassion for all of God's creatures. Maha's passing is a great loss to her family, her friends, anyone who came in contact with her and the world at large. May she rest in peace. Maha is irreplaceable and her loss will leave a great gap in this world with the loss of yet another good, honest, compassionate, fair and hardworking human being. Farewell, dear Maha! You were solid like steel and gentle like a butterfly. The world suffered a great loss with your departure.
"Since then – 'tis Centuries – and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses' Heads
Were toward Eternity –"
Maha and I knew each other as colleagues and in my capacity as Gender Focal Point for the Department. She was tough and outspoken, but she had a very generous, kind and caring inner core. She was extremely intelligent and a maverick. She bucked trends and did not respect authority if you demanded it. She would say the most outrageous things and she could challenge folks who did not understand where she was coming from.
She was passionate about the UN and the people of the world we are working for, and most of her ideas were aimed at getting to that very difficult point of how are we serving the world’s people, the ones that really need the UN’s support.
She loved beautiful things. In the last year, her desk was often near my office and she would be full of excitement about some jewellery exhibition I mentioned to her, or even my struggles with learning Arabic. She went off and bought something for her mother and showed it to me. I met Cha Mansour many years ago and was so taken away by her beauty and dignified presence. I asked Maha how her mother was so polite and she was so mischievous!
I remember teasing her and she said she told her brother, Sherif, who laughed and laughed about the expression I used to describe an outfit she wore.
Maha was often misunderstood and could not be easily placated if she felt you were ridiculing her. She could be unstoppable if she felt she was being unjustly treated. She had a zest for life and was always putting up trial balloons. When last we spoke, she asked for feedback on a proposal and poked fun about how her English was getting better by the day.
Maha will live on as someone who was unique and brought diversity to the UN in an entirely different way. We wish her family lots of courage and happy memories.
I first got to know Maha when she was briefly reassigned to the Web team in 2017. At that time the Web team also covered social media and that is what Maha was focusing on (having originally worked for UN Radio). Maha was an extremely colourful person. You always knew she was coming through the office as she would have so much to say about all kinds of subjects. She was never short of an opinion on anything that was going on - from the rather mundane affairs of staff life to some of the most complex international affairs of the day. She was highly articulate and fluent in English, French and Arabic, often switching between languages mid-sentence ! She was a complete force of nature with very high levels of energy and enthusiasm and never afraid to speak truth to power. She had the energy of a lion. It is hard to accept she is gone but while she was here she lived her life to the full. We will always remember her. [from Peter Dawkins, Dpt. Global Communications, United Nations]
At first glance, Maha seemed tough and gave a fierce impression. The tough exterior was in fact a shield behind which was the kind and gentle heart of a wonderful person.
During my time at the UN, Maha and I were close. I saw over the years that she was often misunderstood. The reality was she could not bear to see injustice of any kind. It is what drew her to the UN and it was the core of her work as a staff representative. Her strength was how she dealt with every case as if it were her own, never resting until a fair result was achieved. She simply wanted to help any colleague she felt was treated unfairly.
While always taking up the cause of others with strength and bravery, Maha's tough exterior often hid the hardships she herself was dealing with, never wanting to show her struggles to others. This too was a special kind of strength and bravery that stayed with her until the end.
Maha was incredibly smart, as a close friend she was very supportive and kind. I am extremely grateful for the time I had with her and words cannot express my sorrow. I will miss her dearly.
Rest in peace my dear.
My prayers are with your family at this moment..
I am very saddened to read abut Maha's struggles with cancer and her passing. Although we didn't work together, we shared a floor space at the UN. I was a few cubicles away but was often happy to hear her laugh and be joyful. Never would I have imagined that she was struggling with cancer. My deep condolences to Maha's family and loved ones. She was a bright and intelligent, cheerful lady. Her sense of humor was lovely. With high regards, Tulin.
The death of Maha is truly sad news. I've know Maha for a long time from work, and we also had very close friends in common. Maha and I would share long talks about politics and the the UN, and the world hardships. You could say that Maha was a "misfit", and I always welcome misfits to wake us up, "normal people", from our "normality", and she certainly woke up lots of people. Maha was a very colorful person, in every sense, politics, ideas, fashion, and procedures, she had strong commitments and a very unique manner of dealing with them, she knew it and she stood for her oddities; Maha's political position was, in my own view, in the right place and she was not silent about it, a fighter; when she took a job she turned it into her thing, and went to sometimes comical ways of obtaining what she needed to succeed with any of her projects. She stood for all she believed was right and didn't care about the level of whom she had to confront when she believed that person was wrong. I will always remember and respect her for that. RIP (Cesar Martin Redi. United Nations, Department of Global Communications.)
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