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Cairo Update

Date Written:
  31 August 2001
  I had a dream
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Dear friends,

It's happened at last! I had a dream in Arabic! It is said that when you dream in a foreign language it is a sign that it is deeply rooted in your sub-conscious and you are well on the way to having a good grip of the language. Actually, in the dream I was using both sign language AND speaking in Arabic at the same time. Since I have only just been getting more familiar with sign language I was surprised that it happened so quickly- I've only really had one lesson and the rest I have picked up on my visits to the deaf school.

I told Alison about the dream since she has a gift in giving interpretations. I won't bore you with the details, but basically it seems that we will continue to minister here for the forseeable future. I need to do more personal interaction and I need to work more on my preparation time!

Earlier this month I arranged the children's programme for a four day conference for a organisation here. The organisation has similar aims to our own, they wanted someone outside the organisation to the programme so that all of their workers would be available for the seminars. I had 15 children for eight sessions, each lasting one and a half hours. They were from Australia, Holland, the UK and the USA. It was quite a change for me to work so much with children from a Western background, and although they were well behaved and we had a good time I still prefer speaking to Egyptian children. There are good and bad differences on each side. I can probably summarise them as follows:

"Western" children - Negative tendencies
Critical, slow to accept
Quiet and not interested
Easily patronised

Egyptian children - Negative tendencies
Noisy, distracted
Easily get over-excited

"Western children" - Positive tendencies
Work is the focus
Keen to show what they think
Like to ask questions

Egyptian children - Positive tendencies
People / relationships are the focus
Keen to show what they know
Like to agree

Of course another factor is I am now used to speaking through a translator, but at the conference everything is in English; to be honest I missed the thinking time between sentences- and all my talks take half the time without a translator!

Shortly after I returned we went on holiday to the North coast, about 15 miles West of Alexandria. We stayed in a beach house courtesy of friends who were out of the country. There was not much to do except relax, swim and play with the children. Perfect! We went with a couple who live in the same building as us in Cairo. The children were content to play for hours in the sand and paddle in the sea, they even enjoyed my games of burying them in the sand up to the neck! (That is, in the sand from the neck DOWN, not the neck UP!).

We returned after staying four nights. We would have considered staying longer but Hannah started school and we needed time to prepare. She wasn't keen to go- although Alison and I have been involved in the school almost since we arrived, Hannah has never been keen on the idea of going there. We felt it was time to give it a try. Alison's has been teaching Hannah at home but it was quite difficult for Alison, who had to look after Esther and Lydia at the same time. We wouldn't have normally thought of sending her there because of the expense, but we had a generous gift from a foundation in the UK which covered almost half of the fees for the year. In addition the school itself gave a scholarship to cover 30% of the remaining fees . . . so we took this as a sign that now was a good time to send Hannah there!

There are four classes in the school with about 7 or 8 children in each (nice ratio, eh?) I guess the only disadvantage is that there are mainly American background children who go there, so Hannah might pick up a bit of an accent! She will also learn American history . . . a bit sad since she loves stories about kings and queens. Almost all of the parents are working with similar companies as us, so there is a very strong ethos in the school. For the next two years I will be a member of the board of the school (I guess they couldn't find anyone better) and already I seem to have been given the role of technical supervisor as far as their computer systems are concerned!

From September my schedule is starting to fill up with meetings again, so it appears that I will return from the summer break with a bump. Hopefully I will have more to report about meetings next time!

Toodle pip,


PS . . . Holiday snaps, in case you forgot what we look like!


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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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