Maybeline Thoraya Boraei Alvarez a 25 year old military pilot in Ecuadorian Air Force said she is the first and only Muslim woman working for a Latin American air force.
“I am working for the Ecuadorian Air Force but there has never been a Muslim woman pilot working for the [air force] in a Latin American country,”
Boraei Alvarez, whose father Muhammed Boraei was Egyptian-born, has been in the Ecuadorian Air Force for several years.
She says her mother Martha Alvarez and brother Muhammed Soliman and sister Marilyn Phatma are Muslims as well.
She says she had some challenges at work in the beginning, for instance on some days she could only drink water because the food was not halal, meaning prepared using Muslim dietary guidelines.
“But I had to be patient with this because I believed as a Muslim woman I had to succeed,” she said.
During this time, Boraei Alvarez said, she lost 10 kilograms, and this worried her commanders.
“They found a solution. On the days meals weren’t suitable under Islam, I was offered a different menu.
“Also they arranged my working hours so I could worship,” she says, adding that after this they started assigning her important duties.
The 25-year-old pilot decried how certain media and extremist groups foster a negative impression of Islam all over the world: “We should unite as siblings and defend our religion.”
“All my friends know that I’m a Muslim and they respect that. Plus, it makes me proud that some of my friends have started to explore Islam,” she adds.
According to Boraei Alvarez, when she first applied for the air force and told them she was Muslim, the selection committee was quite surprised and a little worried.
“I just thought to myself, ‘Ok, my faith is more important than my goal, if I’m not accepted I’ll pursue another path’ and then suddenly all doors opened to me.”