As I mentioned in an earlier blog, 2011 has been the year of big things. One of the big things, which has continued to have reverberations around the world and continues to have an impact on my trip occurred at the start of the year in Egypt. In February this year Egypt had a revolution. Just before things got ugly I booked a ticket to fly from Tanzania to visit my cousin and her family living the ex-pat life in Cairo.
|Pyramids of Giza, Egypt|
At the height of the chaos there were no phones and no internet. We obsessively watched scary pictures on the news as we waited to find of how loved ones and strangers were faring. Finally after a few contradictory scraps of news via facebook we got solid news. The following email (sent by my Aunt, whose daughter and family I am now staying with in Cairo) was a great relief:
“Thanks for your thoughts and messages – I can’t capture what it means to know people are thinking of our Cairo family’s safety as well as what’s happening to people in Egypt, so thanks will have to do,
Have just Skyped with Fraine in Dubai and they’ve just about caught up with their sleep deficit and got back to eating meals. And after a WB (World Bank) meeting last night, families’ attention is turning to kids’ education and where to from here.
|family dinner on a felucca on the Nile|
Some families are considering school in Dubai. Fraine is wondering about using Oz Distance Ed resources. Not an available option for most families whose countries don’t have requirements for distance ed infrastructure – yet another reason to be glad we’re Australians, despite the floods/fires/cyclones! They’re also feeling very fortunate to have a house and school to return to in Oz as an option: most of the other evacuated families don’t have this. Fraine’s also unconcerned about having to leave material things behind in Cairo for now or ?forever.
Some people who left with them have only hand luggage as they had to walk some distance before they could be transported to the airport. Some of the WB Egyptian employees have stayed behind as they have to physically protect their houses. The WB has chartered two flights out and they will call people who have stayed behind today to see if they want to leave. They’ve moved the a.m. call back to 11 a.m. as an earlier call interrupts people’s sleep after they’ve stayed up all night to protect their houses from looters.
We maybe should feel sorry for Cam: the WB has an office in Dubai so he’ll be back at work on Sunday I guess (and perhaps he was back at work yesterday/ Thursday). Fraine’s relieved they didn’t go to Istanbul (another WB office city) – it’s winter there and they wouldn’t have winter clothes. (Seems a silly worry really, but maybe ordinary worries are a comfort in crises?)
All the WB families are being accommodated in the same serviced apartment building in Dubai so the kids have playmates in similar situations to themselves. The WB has a protocol for managing evacuated employees/families, which changes according to the length of time of the evacuation. It’s early days yet, but we need have no concerns for F, C, H and L at any step along the way.
|Egyptian felucca skipper|
It’s a different matter for the people in Egypt of course… [in this] truly troubling time. If I was a prayer myself, I’d ask that people be safe. But I’ll ask for it anyway – just in case, and ‘cos it’s all I can do, x B”
That was February. In March I caught up with my cousin in St Kilda, she had returned to Australia so that her children could continue with their school year while her husband stayed in Dubai to work. The talk was about the scary time they had lived through, but also the plan to return once things had settled down. Her invitation to me to visit was still open if I wanted it.
And last week I arrived to a still curfewed Cairo in the middle of the night.
|sunset on the Nile|