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Cairo Update

Date Written:
  11 September 1999
  Back to England
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Greetings from Cairo,

A busy few weeks have just passed and so now we feel that it is catch-up time with our correspondence.

Since returning to Cairo Alison has kept her usual regular appointments with her obstetrician to gauge the progress of our baby due in January. In one of these routine appointments we discovered that the baby has a heartbeat which occasionally drops from the usual 146 beats per minute down to 55 beats per minute (the medical term is irregular arrhythmia). The obstetrician was uncertain as to the exact cause so she recommended that either Alison returns to England or we seek an urgent appointment at the only medical establishment in Egypt which can do the necessary detailed scan of the heart. Unfortunately the doctor here which we needed to make the appointment with was on holiday . . . but after getting advice from friends in the medical profession we decided that Alison, Hannah and Esther should return as soon as possible to England.

I felt that for the time being I should stay and complete some of the meetings in my schedule, at the moment I'm not sure exactly when I will return to the UK but it will depend on a number of factors. Anyway, on Thursday we said goodbye at the airport. Hannah said that she was looking forward to- "staying with grandma and eating bacon sandwiches", well, I guess in her mind that's probably two of the most important things there is in England. I've been told that the girls behaved excellently on the plane and were happy to see Alison's Dad at the other end.

Unfortunately there was bad news waiting for them. The previous Tuesday Alison's grandmother had a stroke and was in hospital, and was semi-conscious. Her condition has not changed over the past few days. The outcome of stroke cases like this is apparently difficult to predict. We would certainly value your prayers for Alison and her family at this time.

On Friday Alison had an appointment with a consultant who has referred her to a specialist unit in Birmingham on Thursday next week. Apparently this will be a complete check on the major internal organs of the baby and will give a better idea on the cause of the arrhythmia. It has been mentioned that it could be a hole in the heart but there needs to be a detailed scan to confirm this.

I addition to everything else I've had meetings to contend with too. Yesterday I had two- one in the morning and another in the afternoon. The meeting in the morning was for a children's group from a poor area of the city called "The Olives". The church's pastor is an ex-orthodox priest called Father Daniel who was "defrocked" because of his evangelical leanings. The meeting was a special trip for them to an amusement park. Most of the children never go on holiday so it was decided to give them all a special trip. Once in the amusement park all of the rides were paid for- you can only imagine their excitement at being able to play on the rides and run on the grass. I've heard recently that in Cairo there is on average only 13 square centimeters of grass for each person- no bigger than your hand! This statistic doesn't reveal that it's actually the rich areas that have almost all of the grassy areas, so children in the poor areas hardly see any.

After the children had expended most of their energy, they went into a shaded area whilst I "performed". I used juggling and magic tricks to communicate some "fundamental truths". The great thing with the location was the fact that there were a good few eavesdroppers who received the message too. On the streets open-air events like this are forbidden, but I guess that in a private amusement park if people want to stand and listen then that's entirely up to them!

During the performance I was reminded how hot the weather is still- several times I was distracted by sweat falling into my eyes and afterwards the black shirt which I was wearing was drenched with sweat too. This dried off at home leaving quite a few salt tide marks.

After this performance I returned home to prepare for the next meeting. Fortunately this was within walking distance of our flat so I had a chance to sit down and relax first. In the evening I managed to do what I'd been trying to do for a few days- finish watching the Shakespeare video "Hamlet" which I received for my birthday from Alison, a good end to a busy day . . .

And so, fare thee well


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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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