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Cairo Update

Date Written:
  22 December 1997
  No Snow, Just Rain
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We had rain this past week- nothing much though but it always takes people here by surprise. I was going from place to place during the rain and during the time I went into 3 different taxis, none of which used the wind-screen wipers. I'm not sure if they know how to work them or if they just don't like to put them on. One taxi driver kept stopping the taxi to wipe the windscreen with a cloth. There's some things which I'll never get used to!

A friend of mine had to cancel a meeting that he was taking because he knew that there would be a very low turn-out because of the weather (this was an indoor event!) We've only had one downpour since we arrived and we were surprised by the amount. This was last February shortly after we arrived but there hasn't been anything like it since. As far as we can tell there is no drainage system so all of the rainwater stays at street-level; this means that the roads themselves can get halfway to the knees in water after a bad downpour but this isn't common.

During the run-up to Christmas we've been attending various celebrations and events. We are enjoying it here since there isn't much in the way of commercialisation and it means that there aren't the usual distractions from the real meaning. This past week we've attended a traditional service and a party of a friend who lives near-by.

I did the talk at the English speaking service last Friday where the children stayed in to do their part in the Christmas service. It was unusual to do a talk without being translated, to be honest I missed the regular "interruptions" to get my thoughts together to clearly think out the next sentence. There was also the added distraction that I now had to paint the picture on the sketchboard from left to right and do the writing in English . . . it's surprising how I'm getting used to doing the artwork in Arabic.

Already January is getting filled with speaking engagements. I'm receiving phone calls from complete strangers saying that they heard about me and want me to speak to the children that they are in charge of, of course there is always a limit to how many I can accept but I never like to refuse a booking. I'll be in Alexandria at the beginning of January to do a children's talk then later to do a S School teachers conference that has been arranged specially for my visit- they are expecting at least 150 to attend. I'm really pleased with how I'm getting these opportunities to train the teachers since there is only one of me and I can't possibly get round all of the classes by myself!

I've recently met a guy who does much of this type of training. He wants to take me all over the country and arrange special conferences in several of the major cities to do this type of training for teachers, unfortunately I don't think that I will get the time to do this!

Family news- Yes, after 10 months we've finally managed to get our automatic washing machine! Gone are the days of trying to use the ancient twin-tub that's broken (we had to siphon the water out of this after every wash). We went to the part of the city that sells washing machines (yes, no kidding!) and we kept on asking prices until we found the cheapest, then knocked down the price a bit more until it was in our price range. It took an extra couple of days to get a plumber to come and fix it in but now it is all finished and everything is working. We'll be spending the next few days catching up on the washing and ironing!

We hope to buy a turkey for Christmas day but there aren't many around. We're having an open house on the 23rd for all of our friends and we'll be having a quiet Christmas as a family together. As I mentioned before, it is nice not to have the commercialisation to spoil the celebrations. I'm keeping a lot of my Christmas money to spend on magic tricks when I get back to England!

I'll write again after Christmas,

Lots of Love,

Jason, Alison and Hannah

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It's a Fact!

Facts about Egypt:

  • Egypt's population is 66 Million

  • Egypt is four times the size of the UK

  • Only 3% of the land can be used for arable crops

  • Cairo has 18 million people and is growing by 1 millon each year.

  • Cairo is the Largest city in Africa and the Middle East

  • Official literacy rate is only 45%

  • A total of 11 languages are spoken in Egypt

  • Public Debt per person is $790

  • Average annual income is $630

  • Unemployment is estimated to be 17%

  • Religion: Approx. 85% Muslim and 15% Christian

  • Most Christians are affiliated to the Orthodox Church, less than 1% of the population are Protestant

  • There are an estimated 100,000 street children in Egypt


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