Istabl Antar: when NGO work can make a difference

November 25, 2009 at 9:56 am (Weekly Posts) (, , , , )

For my photography class, I have a minimum requirement of being on 2 field trips. The last one I have been on was to a place called “Istabl Antar” which translates to “Antar’s stable”. No it is not the place where horses are kept. It is the second poorest area in Cairo, that is mounted on a hill near Moqattam area.

So, we had a tour in the area as a group. It wasn’t any different from any other slum area in Cairo. The streets are full of garbage, children running and playing barefoot, and women are a little aggressive, especially when I tried to take one photo of one woman’s kid rolling a tire in the street as a way of having fun. So, that was not new to me; I have been to so many slum areas and witnessed the same reaction with some exception of nice treatment in other areas.

The nice part was when we headed to the NGO we had on the schedule,Twasol or “Bonding”. And I was impressed, again, for I have been there before on another trip. They collect and gather the children who dropped out of school and have them learn a craft or attend classes in this NGO. And I could see a difference in the kids. One instance is that when we stepped into one of the classes, we found the kids stood up as a sign of respect to the visitors they have in the class. I was moved and happy.

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“There is no place like Paris”

November 16, 2009 at 9:42 pm (Weekly Posts) (, , , , , )

Grey Egypt

Yes, we have won the match for which our nerves were almost torn down. I must say I didn’t care much. The scenes in the streets weren’t new to me. I used to see and hear the honking and cheering every match between Ahly and Zamalek, the most famous 2 competing football teams in Egypt.

So, I am wondering whether this whole game thing is what makes me feel Egyptian and love being and belonging to Egypt.

What made me wonder is that last Friday, one day before the match, I met a French friend of my sister’s. It was my first encounter with someone French where we sat down, had lunch together and talked. I also must say that I am in love with anything French, the language, the culture, the food, the music… everything. So our conversation started off with her observations of the Egyptian street, the traffic, the people, the pollution, and the inability to enjoy a walk in the streets, which is true. But because she has been in Egypt for almost 4 weeks for the first time, she mentioned how Egyptians have an amazing sense of humor all through the office boy she has been dealing with. So yea there is a good thing we have.

But when I asked her to tell me about france or Paris, since I have never been there. She told me about how grumpy French people are, but how possible it is to actually have a walk in the streets there. She said one thing that really struck me and made me wish I was in a country about which I could say something like this someday. She told me I didn’t travel alot, but “there is no place like Paris.” It made me even more eager to go and witness the beauty of Paris.

So, it seems different what impact each place leaves on the people living in it. I used to think that because I live in this place, its beauty isn’t as perceptible and appreciated as one who doesn’t live in it sees it. But there she is my French who happens to actually like her city and thinks it is the best place in the world. I think issue now is how Egypt, the place where I live, has come to leave all this dust on my eyes that I no longer appreciate living in it.

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Swine flu closure AGAIN? Mercy please!

November 7, 2009 at 10:34 pm (Weekly Posts) (, , , , , )

Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Natheef has announced next feast’s vacation to be 10 days to include some extra days off for all schools and universities. The decision has been made “in a continuous effort” to contain the spread of the swine flu. The vacation is extended to December 5th.

This means that there will be another week off after school is officially resumed.

I say “please not again”! We, as the students of The American University in Cairo (AUC), have been already cramped up paying for the week we had been given at the beginning of the semester right after the first feast Muslims have, “The Fetr Feast”.

The media sources are talking about the government’s making sure that exam times for all other classes in the Egyptian education system are set to be on time with no change due to the expected vacation.

I wonder what the first set of days off has done to alleviate the spread of the flu. Nothing. The sixth case has died a couple of days ago, and it was a student. Why do I have the feel that we, Egyptians, are over-reacting to the whole flu issue?

It seems that we cling to any thing that would give extra days with no work. It seems as if we hate to see things getting done and achieved. It is making me so furious that I am starting to feel pathetic worrying too much about it!

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