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Cairo Update

Date Written:
  28 September 2001
Subject:
  Blind, deaf . . . dumb?
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Greetings from Cairo,

I've just returned from my first meeting at a deaf "church" service where I attended as a member of the congregation- i.e. I didn't go there to speak or to participate in the main part of the service. I have decided that I will go each week on Sunday evening- I hope that it will improve my sign language skills as well as make new friends. There were about 80 at the service and I met quite a few interesting characters. One lady who made quite an impression was both blind and deaf. To communicate with her you had to use her own hands to do sign language, she would use her own hands to communicate back. She seemed to be one of the happiest there. She told me that she has two children- a boy and a girl, but both grown up now. She is looking forward to them to get married and have children. After meeting people like that in life I wonder how so many people in life complain so much.

I met someone else who can hear but attends the church service because she has a deaf relative. She was present about two years ago when I gave my first sketchboard lesson there. She has taken the lesson and used it many times in different Sunday school services because she liked it. I told her that she can copy as many of my ideas that she wants . . . next week I will take to her the sketchboard messages I have put on paper.

My sign language is coming on OK. I still haven't become bored with it, in fact the more I learn, the more I want to know! What is holding me back is the lack of material to learn from. There is no dictionary of Egyptian sign language (which exists for many other forms of sign language) so I have to rely on meeting people. I don't know anyone who gives formal classes in sign language so I have had to make up my own methods! What I have learnt so far I have passed on to others. The school which Hannah attends has two older classes of 9-14 year-olds who are being taught sign language by me. The school asked me to take them to the deaf school once a month as part of their development in being aware of their environment and serving the community. The children have learnt fast, but I think that I'm still ahead of them, just! In four half-hour sessions they have completely memorised the Lord's prayer, the parable of the sower and a sermon about it! I don't think that would be possible with any other language except sign language, and that's why I like it so much!

I had a very tiring week in the middle of the month. I was asked to do a series of assemblies in a private school. In all I spoke to about 400 primary school aged children giving a very simple "presentation"- they responded well but I was exhausted by the end of the week because I had additional meetings to attend. I was rather surprised by their policy on children arriving late at school. It is always a problem in Egyptian culture to get people to do anything on time, so strict measures are often required. They used to have the policy that all children arriving late would immediately go to the detention room where they would stay for the morning (and presumably catch up with the missed work in their own time). This policy did not work because it was often the parents who were to blame for getting them to school late. So the school changed the policy- all children arriving late are now sent back home for the rest of the day, no exceptions. Working parents now have to arrange child care for the day if their child is late, in this way it is the parents that are punished! This policy has been quite successful apparently. I explained to my host that this system would not work in the UK- first we are better time keepers, if someone is late to school or work then there is usually a good reason. Secondly, the parents would be up in arms with such a rule and would vote it down before it became official policy.

For the last two weeks of September Alison's parents stayed with us. They were hoping for a relaxing holiday, but the girls had other ideas- I think they returned back to the UK for a break! The girls had a great time with them here, and for me and Alison it is always a blessing to have an extra two pairs of hands around to help out! We certainly needed it in their first week here when my schedule was filled with meetings and preparation.

Near the end of the busy week I had an excellent time in an area at the other side of the city from where I live. I have heard that the area is well known for violence between nominal believers of the two majority religions here, but there have been no incidents recently (thank goodness!) As usual my name had been passed to them via the grapevine. After arriving I felt strongly that I should spend time in prayer before the meeting started. Since most of the other leaders were busy with preparations for the meeting they showed me to a quiet room in the building and left me there for half an hour. Afterwards I spoke for about an hour to a group of 7-14 year-olds and I felt a strong sense of His Spirit in the place. I could see that lives were touched- including mine. I will be doing a lot more praying just before the meetings now!

As a final note, what can I say about the events that happened on 11th September? The view of the majority here lies somewhere between the two opinions- "They had it coming to them" and "They deserved it". Enough said.

Keep us in your thoughts,

Toodle pip,

Jason

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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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