Sevcik's Blog

A year in Cairo Egypt

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

an evening with the Fira sisters

Sunday afternoon I invited three sisters who are in the teen program at St. Andrews over to my Dawson Hall flat. Over the past couple months I have been getting to know one of them, Mariam Fira, very well. Mariam stops by my office nearly every day, gives me hugs, kisses my cheek, and tells me she misses me. I adore her. She and her two sisters, Faiza and Gitu, are from Ethiopia. They live with two brothers, their mom, and another woman and her son. The three girls and the older brother share a room--the boy sleeps in the bed and the three girls sleep on the floor. They are a very happy family, certainly full of sorrow (their father is 'lost' in Ethiopia) but full of so much joy as well.

After meeting the girls at St. Andrews I brought them over to Ghamra to have dinner in my flat. They were amazed about how big it was, and kept oohing and aahing over this and that. Within no time they were making themselves at home; taking it upon themselves to look through my photo albums, play some pingpong, and eat any candy that was lying around. When we started to cook, the three grabbed the vegetables, washed them, and started chopping away...even went so far as going to another room to boil water and cook for me. I was impressed to see how comfortable they were to be so proactive. I decided to make brown rice with my "egyptian" sause (i.e., what I make while living in's really not an Egyptian dish) of cooked/fried eggplant, zucchini, onions, broccoli in a pasta sause/tomato paste/fresh tomato sause. We also had cooked green beans with Balsamic Vinegarette. I knew Mariam loved white chocolate, so I had Stephen buy some of it for us. The girls have never eaten broccoli before! (They also didn't recognize the eggplant, but I bet they've had it in salads.) I'm not certain they enjoyed the food even though they said it was wonderful, but I'm glad they tried something new. :-)

After eating we decided to watch a movie, which was another joy for them. Mariam said she liked "high school" moives and they decided on "She's All That." The girls were either silent or laughing throughout the movie--they were really excited to see the film, and they understood it pretty well...though I'm not sure in this case that's a good thing.

After dinner we went to Mariam Ephram's home, a good hour away from where I live. Mariam is another student at St. Andrews from Eritrea and a good friend to the Fira girls. She was 'traveling' (resettling) that night to NYC. Wow! Mariam really wanted me to see her one more time and asked that all four of us come to her home. What an honor to be there on the last night! When we arrived at her flat, the place was packed full of family, neighbors, and friends saying their goodbyes. In one room people were watching the home video from the going-away party held the day before at a church, in another room people were making sure all the suitcases and packages were put together and accounted for, another room was full of adult women discussing who knows what, and in the kitchen all the teens were hanging out and laughing. In less than an hour of being there it was time for the Ephrams to go, and we gathered outside to load up the van and see them off to the airport. Since I had a camera I was taking as many pictures as possible to send to Mariam later. Mariam kept saying that she was so scared, so uncertain. Although very exciting, I can only imagine how frightening it must be for them to move to America and leave behind everything and everyone. Thankfully Mariam has an uncle in NYC who hooked them up with a flat and get help them get situation. She is excited to join the 10th grade when she arrives, although I'm not sure her English is going to be good enough for that grade. We'll see...

I didn't get the Fira girls home until 11:30pm that night. It was a late night for me, but for them it was an incredibly unique evening. Their mom never lets them go out, but because they were with me she was okay with it. Before Sunday I had only met the mom once and yet she was putting all of her trust in me. In fact, the Fira girls had never been to Mariam's home before, even though she lives quite close and they are good friends. I realized the only reason they were able to go that night was because I was with them. I felt my responsibility as a caretaker and protector shoot way up, but I was pleased to have earned their trust.


Post a Comment

<< Home

eXTReMe Tracker