Sevcik's Blog

A year in Cairo Egypt

Sunday, January 22, 2006

may hope prevail

The past week at St. Andrews was busy with the sounds of people rushing around, talking, laughing, and resting. It was an odd week in many ways. On the one hand, I was in a great mood after the month break from school. I was so excited to see my friends--the staff and students--and share our jokes and laughs like always. Plus, I love to be busy and I thrive on challenges, so it was a great week in that respect too. However, it was tough week for everyone else. Africans are incredibly resilient people; I suppose they’ve learned to be after living in a civil war for most or all of their life. I think their great humor comes out of this—comedy is a great healer and coping mechanism.

Still, this week was especially gloomy. As I said in the last blog, I walked into Monday morning seeing a student who had been beaten up at the protest break up. Most of our staff is housing people who have almost nothing—sometimes not even more than the clothes on their backs. Hope is giving way to bitterness, anger, and hopelessness. The Sudanese have trouble going back to Sudan (because of visas, there is nothing left for them in Sudan, they are scared, etc.), they are not being resettled to other countries, and they are dealing with intense discrimination in this country that doesn’t want them. Now, they don’t know who to trust, as they are disillusioned about the UNHCR and lack trust in that organization.

We are doing as much as we can at St. Andrew’s to help out. Much of this week was spent interviewing adults who had been at the demonstration and now have nothing. They are seeking any help they can get, and we are able to provide some money for food, clothes, and shelter. But, it’s not much. Their stories are horrible. One woman came in after she had been released from prison (about 180 women and children were finally released from children this past Wednesday night after being held for over two weeks) only to find out her two children had been killed. Other people are still desperately trying to find their children, parents, or other family members…they are not sure if the family members are alive or dead. Right now they are just “missing.” Once all refugees are released from prison a final count can be taken. Right now it looks like about 200-300 people actually died, but this is not being reported. It seems the ‘world’ has already forgotten this incident has even happened.

One of our Adult Education teachers, a northern Sudanese woman named Rania, has been working her butt off to help us find therapists for the students. Today, Rania, two of her students, and I went to AMERA, a Legal Aid for refugees. Rania was concerned about the mental state of these two students. One had been understandably depressed/low before the protest breakdown, but suddenly became joyful afterwards; a certain contradiction of emotions. The other student had said, “This [death, beating, etc.] isn’t new to me. I’ve seen my family killed in front of me; it happened three times in Sudan. I’m okay.” No, not okay. I had decided to come with them to AMERA today to get a sense of the aid and see if I could make some connections for our children in the program. I walked away with a good meeting and some forms under my belt. Insha ‘allah we’ll be able to get some students there. Also, Rania was able to get another woman’s name for me to connect who might be able to come to St. Andrew’s to meet with students individually during the school day. Oh, let it be so!

On a good note, our staff is just incredible. It almost brings me to tears thinking of how great they are—really supportive of each other and working so hard to continue to be strong and a good role model for the students. I told some of them to be careful about how they act around the students—even if they have bitterness in their hearts they must not pass it onto the children and continue the rift with Egypt. I suppose I don’t pick up on everything, but I really believe they are doing an amazing job at keeping things positive despite the intense suffering they are dealing with as well.

I get so frustrated at this point. Thing is, I want to help them in any way I can, but there is a very large boundary. For one, I don’t speak the language, so automatically I cannot connect with most of the people. Secondly, I cannot empathize with them. I can sympathize until the cows come home, but I have no concept of what they are truly going through. Third, cultural barriers; in other words, I can’t read people as well as I can with Westerners. With Americans I can be insightful and perceptive about what’s really going on, but I just can’t read the Sudanese. This frustrates me to no end, because in some cases I, or someone I know, have the resources to help. Really, want I want to do is be there to listen, knowing that’s the best way I can serve. But, why would someone want to talk to someone who would be just like talking to a wall, since I wouldn’t understand? Anyhow, I know this issue is so beyond myself (it’s not ‘about me’ at all), I just have the passion to do more and feeling somewhat stuck.

Over the weekend I went to Minya and had a wonderful time with Stephen, Eric, and Samia (Stephen’s boss, who invited us over for lunch). Yesterday I spent the day traveling with the seminary folk (including the Luther Seminary students) around the villages of Minya, where Medhat (and Egyptian seminary student) is the pastor of a church. The village was your typical Egyptian Upper Egypt village; dirt streets, donkeys and water buffalos roaming the streets, children running around playing in the dirt, little running water and electricity, smiling, joyful people in need of dental work, and incredible hospitality. Medhat’s church is in the process of being rebuilt. Right now it’s just the foundation of mud and bricks, and they are waiting for more donations in order to start the next phase. Medhat’s determination is so inspiring; ½ the week he’s working intensely as a student in Cairo and the other half he’s trying to build a church in a village. Please pray for his ministry! A joy to share about this; most of the village is Muslim, and the Muslims have been some of the greatest help in building the church through donations and manual labor. Once again I get the sense God’s love and blessings shine through those with “little” to show those of us with “much” what life is really all about. Gotta love how Jesus turns the tables. :-)

Right now, please pray for the safety and protection of the Sudanese. Pray that they learn to forgive and keep their hearts filled with love and peace. From Romans 15:13; "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."


  • At 1/23/2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Color me jealous! Man, I miss Minya. We went to Medhat's church last summer. There were flies all around and I almost choked. So I gave all my pounds in hope they'd buy screens. I'm glad the flooz is going for a good use.

  • At 1/23/2006, Blogger Christian said…

    I just finished reading "Mere Christianity" and it made me think of you, somehow. It's good to see (and read about) someone doing something worthwhile and far more interesting than me.


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