In Cairo, like in Alexandria, there is a small community of Sisters of Notre Dame de Sion living in an apartement in the neighbourhood of Abassiya. It’s an international community with sisters from Egypt and overseas going out for work in different fields. They hosted us so nicely and made us very much feel at home. I very much regret, that we did not take photos when all sisters were at home. So there are two of them missing on the photos. Sr. Wafaa who we know from Berba is now in Alexandria. She works in a small tailoring workshop. She came just for one day to Cairo to see us, which was a great pleasure!
The last three days in Cairo we stayed with the Comboni Missionaries who have a large Center at Corde Jesu Church. We got a warm welcome and by sharing the meals with them we often had the chance for interesting talks and meetings. As Fr. Pauls mother had passed away just in October a crowd of people came to celebrate with him the 40th day after her death. Almost a whole day of celebrating a mass, talking and eating together. There the Sudan Catholic Community has also its meetings. So its a mixture of nations, languages and cultures! Sudanese people have their very charismatic service and meetings. There where also some volunteers from Italy who worked with the Sudanese people. Egyptian people come for different workshops and their services. The House is right on Ramses Street very close to Nasser Metro Station, Ramses Train Station and Tahrir Square. Just around the corner there is the Supreme Court House where there was a large demonstration while we were there. Opposite of the church is the headquarters …
In Cairo you can find some nice old Café where you love to sit and talk and enjoy good coffee and pastry. Two of them we found open. The famous Café Riche and Groppi. As Sr. Wafaa had her birthday we invited her and had a good time together in the Groppi with its“ Art Nouveau“ interior.
Before Friday afternoon we several times crossed Tahrir Square remembering the time when Karim El-Gawhary reported about the „Arab Spring“ on Austrian TV. We again saw people gathering for next demonstrations as these were just the days when Mursi made himself the next „Pharao“. Concerned about the large gap brought into the Egyptian Society by the Muslim brothers we stayed in the guest rooms of the Comboni Fathers in Cordi Jesu. There we could watch the places we visited a few hours ago in TV by webcams.
Two days before flying back to Austria, on a Thursday, we took the chance to visit the Islamic Cairo with the Al Azahr mosque and Khan Al Khaili. We went there by taxi and walked back. Both took us a long time through the total traffic jam mixed with all the portable sales booths along the whole way.
Like at our first visit with Juliana in Cairo she again took us to the Mokattam area so also Maria and Gerhard could get this very special impression. El Mokattam is a mountain at the edge of Cairo with a special religious story. It is linked to St. Simon the Tanner whom a monastery behind the Manschiyyet Nasser neighbourhood, where the Zabbaleen (Garbage people) live, is dedicated. The Manschiyyet Nasser village is mostly inhabited by coptic christians (Zabbaleen) who collect and sort the garbage of Cairo. Both the Sister of Mercy (Mother Theresa) and Sr. Emmanuelle (a Sister of Notre Dame de Sion) did here great work for the education and healthcare of the people. For example, she founded Gabal El Mokattam School, which is now run by the Daughters of Mary, and a clinic. This school and the clinic are important sources of education, health and values for these families. After driving through the narrow roads of Manschiyyet Nasser you get to the Monstery of St. Simon the Tanner with huge churches cut into the rock. …
After another day in Berba we again had to drive back to Cairo. Entering this large town we visited the Citadelle. Maria, Gerhard and Barbara walked through these most precious mosques of Cairo. I stayed with Juliana enjoying time in sharing our ideas and thougths about Egypts future. Then we continued to Moqatam, the housing area of the Zabbalin, the „garbage people“ and a large monastery.