Sevcik's Blog

A year in Cairo Egypt

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Fira Fun

I'm at the point in my year where I'm spending time reflecting about what I've done thus far and what I want to do in the short time I have left. In doing this, I am thinking a lot about my friendships here. On the one hand, I want to meet as many people as I can to learn from each other, share stories with each other, and develop a friendship. On the other hand I don't want to spread myself too thin and not make any lasting relationships. Growing up I tended to be a bit of a social butterfly, but as time goes on I've decided to really work on developing fewer but stronger relationships. When I return home in a few months, I want to stay in contact with a few people I have come to love.

Through this analyzation, I've discovered just how much I adore the Fira girls. I've mentioned them a few times in my blogs--they are three sisters (ages 15-17) from Ethiopia, students in our teen program. I absolutely love these girls, and I love spending time with them, so lately I've been making a greater effort to find things to do with them. A couple weeks ago I took them to the Cairo Opera House to visit the Art Museum. Mariam has been telling me how much she loves art (esp. the type of art "with two meanings") so I thought they'd enjoy a museum. I was exhausted after looking at nearly every piece of art in this museum, but even after a couple hours the girls were still excited.

Last weekend their mom invited me to their home for a day of Ethiopian delights! They cooked some wonderful Ethiopian food, played Ethiopian music, and taught me to dance Ethiopian style. They dressed me in Ethiopian celebration clothing and we took pictures. Later the girls and I went to the nearby Fuji film shop to take professional photos with funky backgrounds. Before I left for the night Mother Fira gave me three wall decorations she had made in Ethiopia as well as the celebration dress I had been wearing as we were dancing. Their generosity is humbling, to say the least, and I was treated as a most honored guest.

Mother Fira used to work as a house cleaner, but her bad back has forced her give it up, so the girls have been looking for housecleaning work to support the family. While some people drop out of school in order to work and make money, I was told long ago the girls would not be willing to leave school--education is the most important thing. Of course, one must be well off enough to make that statement, because when there are mouths to feed it's clear that a job will come before school. Still, I was impressed to hear this was the case, and I've kept my eyes and ears open for an opportunities they might have.

The opportunity came last week, when my friend Khalil and his roommates agreed to hire the girls for a day of cleaning. Mariam, Faiza, Khalil and I spent hours in the afternoon washing the floor, spraying the windows, dusting the walls and ceiling, and continuously washing out filthy rags. You have never seen a dirty home until you've spent time in a college males flat in Cairo. In Cairo, even if you cleaned your house every day you'd wake up to a layer of dust every morning. In Khalil's case, I think it had been years since they cleaned certain parts of the flat. In the process we discovered a huge dead/dying plant that I've never noticed, and a lampshade that was in fact green, not brown. We really had a good time together, listening to music and watching the place turn from dirty mess to clean and refresh (rhymes ;-) and we were proud of our work. And wow can those girls clean! Khalil even made spaghetti with meat sauce to give the girls a little taste of our American food. I think our next activity will be a movie with popcorn and chocolate cake--yum!


  • At 4/05/2006, Anonymous Sarah said…

    Sarah-this is a beautiful, heartfelt entry. I can feel your heart pouring out. What a wonderful experience for everyone, and this will be a friendship you will never forget.


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