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Cairo Update

Date Written:
  22 September 1999
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Greetings from Cairo!

Latest news on Alison and the baby: She went to the specialist hospital in Birmingham last week where a thorough examination was performed on the internal organs of the baby, including the heart. To Alison's surprise they could not find any problems -- the irregular heartbeat was no longer there and the heart appeared to have no physical defects. The specialist said that it will be best to keep the baby's heart monitored at regular intervals because of this could be a problem which comes and goes, but we're hoping that everything really is okay and that the pregnancy will continue as normal. In the meantime our parents are enjoying the unexpected but welcome visit by Alison and the girls. Since we were going to have the baby in England anyway it has not changed our plans much, I will be going to the UK sometime near the end of October then we will both return in January.

Although I'm missing Alison and the girls very much, I now have much more free time to do lots of jobs I have been mean to get round to do for a long time. I am attempting to fit all of these things in before my return. The unexpected return for Alison and the girls has coincided with the time that Hannah would have started school. Last Monday Hannah had her first day at school -- Alison e-mailed me a photograph of how to in her school uniform. She looked so grown-up, and we feel that we're losing our little baby... in comparison Hannah was all too happy to leave everyone and go to school!

Well I've just had another busy couple of weeks, it started off with non-stop computer problems. Many people think that because I am working with computers all of the time I know how to solve all computer problems -- nothing can be further from the truth! I have concluded that computer problems are like a disease in that it can strike anyone at any time no matter what their profession is, in the same way, if you are a doctor that does not mean to say that you cannot be ill!

The source of my computer problems started when I decided it was time to upgrade to a Pentium 350 MHz with 64 MB of RAM. At the same time I decided to change the sound card is well so that I could use a facility on the interest whereby I can get cheap phone calls to England. Physically changing the hardware is no problem whatsoever, the problems come when one switches on the power supply and one watches Windows 95 go through a sequence of errors, complaints quickly followed by death throes then the inevitable " freeze out " when the computer responds to nothing.

It took me over three days to eventually solve the computer problems, it meant a complete re-installation of Windows 95 onto a new hard disk, then I had to exchange the new sound for another one because it did not want to talk to the new mother board -- I wonder if computers really DO make things easier . . .

One advantage of the upgrade is that I can now use the facility over the Internet whereby I can make long distance calls for a fraction of the normal cost. Once the computer is on the Internet I connect to a company where have I have an account, then I use the microphone and speakers on the computer to connect the phone system in Britain and can dial any number I wish for the equivalent of 7 pence a minute. Compared this above the normal price from Egypt of over one pound a minute! The only disadvantage is a slightly longer than normal delay on the line but for the price of the call I'm willing to live with it.

When not fixing my computer or making cheap phone calls my other work is going very well. I recently attended a Sunday School teacher training conference near the centre of Cairo. This is an annual event and all of the Protestant Sunday school teachers are invited to attend, the numbers are usually well over 200. This is the third time that I have been invited as a guest speaker to this event and I have never fails to get a very warm welcome from everyone. It is my aim during these sessions to give the teachers lots of new ideas to try out on their children, but two also encourage them to think creatively -- this is a quality which is unfortunately lacking in so many teachers in this part of the world. Lots of the teachers are trying out the sketch board ideas which I have given over the years. Afterwards many of the teachers were pleading with me to write a book with the sketch board messages in. I have been nagged about this is for over a year now, so I decided that from a this week I am going to attempt to write one sketch board talk per week until I go back to England. I already have a translator who is willing to write the talks into Arabic.

From next week I am planning to restart my regular visits to a school for street children in the place called "The City of Peace". I went there last Wednesday. The couple who run the project have been very easy with extra building work to the school, they are both feeling very burdened with the time and expense of the building work and also with the school duties and lack of finances. They only started the project about two years ago and by faith they've seen the work start from nothing and now they have a five storey building and they feed, clothe and educate about 50 children. For me it is a privilege every time I go and work there and it is incredible to see how far project can get just by prayer and commitment. I would like to ask you all to say a quick prayer for them while you were reading this -- their names are Ghada and Showky.

Farewell from Cairo where the weather is getting a little cooler...


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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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