it's been such a long time since I've written anything. Quite
a busy time over Christmas, including an event which I can't talk
about like this . . . but needless to say that everything is now
OK. We trust that you all had a great time.
finally taken down the decorations; our Christmas was extended
to a few days after the Eastern Christmas on the 7th of January.
We entertained some Egyptian guest at the time. Hannah and Esther
had loads of presents and their room is bulging all the more because
of it. Hannah is carrying her new Barbie doll around a lot but
she also sticks to some old favorites like Lego. Esther continues
to put many things in her mouth including the new presents, but
now she is becoming a bit more inquisitive- at least she gives
them a good look before putting them in.
were a number of special meetings over the Christmas season. One
of which was at an orphanage I visited over a year ago in a place
called "Helwan". The name itself means "Goodness"
(I think!) in English but as in common with many Arabic names
the place name does not match up the reality. In Helwan there
is a lot of industry and many pollutants are expelled into the
air. Unfortunately for Egypt there is never much wind to carry
off the pollutants so it hangs in the air and gives respiratory
problems or settles in the streets. It is said that Helwan is
the most polluted place in Egypt, and possibly the most polluted
in the world! I'd question the latter claim to fame but I'd certainly
believe the former. Egypt as a whole always has pollution problems.
I walked through the doors of the orphanage I was immediately
surrounded and spoken "at" in a chorus of excited Arabic
voices. These boys don't forget quickly- just when I thought that
a year since the last visit would have addled their memories!
I had to retire to a separate room at the orphanage to prepare
for the party. I took two lady helpers who wish to get involved
in children's work here. They are such a great help to take to
meeting like this- as part of the programme I wanted to make balloon
models for each child under the age of 12- about 35 with a total
of 80 in the orphanage. By myself this would have been quite an
effort to fit into a 30-minute slot with lots of other entertainment
to go with it.
boys were in a highly excited state from the outset of the party.
Actually, I think that it's the only organised excitement they
have in the year. Before my slot there were some organised games
that dissolved into chaos as the boys' excitement took over control
from their sense of fair play. The last event was a tug of war
that initially kept the children together in close for about a
minute whist the rope swayed to and fro. When it became apparent
that one side was going to win most of the boys from the loosing
side suddenly switched their allegiances and turned a dignified
retreat into a crushing rout. Actually, you see this all the time
with adults- it's called expediency which is really the tendency
to rush to the aid of the winning side!
the boys filed into the chapel I wondered how I was going to manage
to do my slot- I've never performed to a group resembling a rabble
on the terraces at a football match. But my worries were ill founded
because they had taken out all of their energy in the previous
activities which left me with a group of about 100 attentive children
the children were presented with their presents- a new set of
clothes for the year! They looked overjoyed which wouldn't have
been my reaction if I'd just received clothes for Christmas! Afterwards
we had a party meal with was a giant order from MacDonalds: Chips,
Coke, McFeasts and McChicken burgers for all children and helpers.
I was really surprised because someone must have paid a LOT of
money for it. The work of the orphanage is well known and I think
that many local believers want to help out at Christmas time.
was a big encouragement for another project here. I've written
before about the street children in the City of Peace, a few kilometers
out of Cairo. I went to see the project leader (Dr Showky) last
week- he found out that I work with computers and needed assistance
in entering the children's data onto his system. Unknown to him
I went with a gift from our home church for the work. He's had
many financial difficulties recently because they have a building
program to extend the work of the project that involves building
extra two floors on top of the already existing building. A few
days earlier a key person involved in the day to day running of
the children's program left under acrimonious circumstances, as
far as I can see it was not Dr Showky's fault.
Showky was telling me that he's had the urge many times to leave
the project, but he knows that if he does leave the work will
not last for more than one month. He is a doctor who is quite
high up in the government sector, in fact he's one of the only
Christian doctors who has reached the level of being able to close
down bad government hospitals in Egypt. If he left Egypt to work
abroad he would be able to earn a lot of money with his skills
and training, but now he is earning less than $100 per month!
He became silent when I offered him the money from our home church,
then he shared about his recent difficulties and how this and
another event the previous day had given him the confirmation
to stay on with the project. I encouraged him in him role. He's
a good administrator but recently he has only seen the paperwork,
the faults that the builders have made, the personal acrimony
and the financial worries. It has stopped him from seeing the
children that he's helped and the delight in their faces as they've
come to a safe and friendly atmosphere where they get washed,
well fed and taught.
forced me to agree to come more often to talk to the children.
He could have spared the effort because for me it is a privilege
to talk to these kids. They are probably the ones that have responded
best in the whole of Cairo. Many have made commitments and have
made a 180 degrees turnaround in their lives.
hope to get round to sending these updates on a regular basis
of love from all of us here,
Alison, Hannah and Esther
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