Saturday, October 11, 2008

Metro to Ma'adi

The Indian last night turned out to be relatively spectacular. Though it might not have met the standards of those who regularly feast on the finest Subcontinental cuisine, it suited me, a humble Midwesterner with but one Indian restaurant in his whole hometown (Sizzling India on Main St. in Peoria). We had veggie samosas, pakoras to start, paneer makhani and the house daal for our main courses, and delicious pistachio kulfi for dessert. All of this was followed by some sugar-coated fennel seeds which are said to aid in digestion (I like them because they taste like black liquorice).
Today, I had a meeting in Ma'adi whither I took the metro, making friends along the way (as I tend to do when in train cars with curious Egyptians who merrily initiation conversations, asking the most personal questions about my religion, where I live in Cairo, and the like without giving it a second thought). My destination was the Gugu Center where I'll be teaching English to advanced students at least once a week. We toured around and I met some of the Sudanese refugees that Natalie works with through her Youth Violence Prevention Initiative which is affiliated with St Andrew's. Curiously enough, the pastor at that same church is friends with my grandmother's cousin who is originally from Emden, Illinois.
Natalie, as I've mentioned before, is a former ambassadorial scholar herself and has begun to receive positive feedback from Rotarians about really making the project effective. The YVPI has also recently received some funding from the UNHCR. The Initiative's main areas of focus are as follows:

(1) skills training and secondary school level educational opportunities;
(2) promotion of creative expression as a coping mechanism building on the community’s appreciation for hip-hop culture; and
(3) structured, reliable access to sports and venues for physical activities.

I'm obviously involved in the first bit, but anyone can contribute to the overall mission by donated funds or, if you're in Cairo, by volunteering to teach. Please contact me if you're interested in either and I'll refer you to the proper people.
On my way back from Ma'adi, I had a substantial wait for the train, so I took out the Qur'an I purchased in Morocco last year and began reading it. I see Muslims doing this all the time on public transport and I've often wondered how it would be received if I did it. Well, it made me friends, haha. "Are you Islamic? I saw you reading a Qur'an," said a curious bystander. I explained that I'm a Christian but was hoping to understand more about Islam. He smiled appreciatively and we chatted about life in Cairo until he reached his stop.
Well, it's back to reading I go. The topic is again a variation on the theme of defining a refugee.

News of Egypt:
Egyptian journalists fined for doctoring photo of religious leader
France invites Egypt to proposed G14
A story on the hijab in Cairo
Egyptian Center for Women's Rights calls for law against sexual harassment

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