Sevcik's Blog

A year in Cairo Egypt

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Saying Good-Bye

As a missionary, it is inevitable that we will have to say good-bye to almost everyone we meet this year, and this month we are getting a taste of what it will be like. Carole Landess, our site coordinator, is returning to America after serving in Egypt for 12 years in order to attend seminary in Dubuque, Iowa. We are all extremely sad to see her leave. Carole is Mom here and we really can’t imagine living in Egypt without her. Of course we’ll be fine, since she’s trained us well J, but life will be very different without her. When Carole’s around we just feel so safe and secure.

We wanted to do something extra special for Carole, so we planned a surprise party for her that occurred last night. All eight volunteers came in for the evening and we took Carole on a felucca sail-boat ride on the Nile during sunset—one of her favorite things to do. When we returned in Dawson Hall a good 30-40 people were waiting in a beautifully decorated Hall ready to jump out with a big “SURPRISE!” She certainly was surprised. The night went so well—people came from hours away and we even managed to get Martha Roy (92 years old) out of her group home and over to Dawson Hall for the celebration/good-bye party. Other than a broken florescent light from the kids kicking an exercise ball to the ceiling (Ha!), the evening turned out beautifully.

On top of that, I’ve already had to say goodbye to three people at St. Andrews. This next month will be especially difficult, as my assistant and now good friend, Henry, is leaving. Henry is from south Sudan and after working for the UN there he fled to Egypt for his (and his family) safety. Now, he has been offered a good job with the International Rescue Committee in Sudan and he is determined to help rebuild his mother country. I am very impressed with his passion and desire to go back to this place of so many painful memories. His family will stay in Egypt for at least a year, however, because there is nothing for them in Sudan—no schools, hospitals, decent water facilities, etc.—at least not yet. I know it’s not an easy decision for him to leave his family and return to Sudan, but he’s determined and hopeful. Thanks to people like Henry and organizations like the IRC, Sudan will be rebuilt. Losing Henry is a huge loss for St. Andrews; he is one of the most competent, devoted, and trustworthy persons to walk through those doors. I have become very fond of him and trust him with my life.

I wanted to take Henry and his family out to celebrate, and after a lot of planning and re-planning what materialized was an evening at Al-Azhar Park for just Henry and me. I was really hoping to meet his children, but it was also a great blessing to have time to get to know him and ask him questions outside of the work environment. That night we had a nice meat dinner in the park and had time to talk about Henry’s history of living in Sudan and his past couple years in Egypt. I absolutely love the park—it’s the only area in Cairo where you can be standing on vegetation and still see greens 40 feet in front of you. (I’m biased, but I think the park is one of the best things Egypt has fashioned in the past 10 years!) Henry really enjoyed being there as well—he had never been anywhere on that side of the city and certainly had not seen the park.

As we strolled around the fountains and flowers he started comparing the trees we were seeing with the trees of Sudan. “Sarah, the trees in Sudan are so huge it takes more than 5 people holding hands to hug the tree all around,” and, “There are miles and miles of the tallest trees you’ll ever see…” I was happy to see him reminisce about his homeland and I could hear the peace and joy in his voice. We made it to the far side of the park that over-looks the city listened to the call to prayers being sung all around us at the various mosques during sunset. The outing also gave Henry a chance to give me some advice for my future—such as searching for a husband and some day starting an NGO in Sudan. Hmmm…we’ll see about that…


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