El Berba is village at the edge of the western desert about 30km southwest of Minia and northwest of Abu Gurgos / Al Fikria. These towns are at the Nile 300km south of Cairo. The population is still increasing and now maybe at 12.000 persons. Many of the people of Berba live in Cairo and work as concierge in apparent houses. Sometimes the parents live in Cairo and the children in Berba. Or the eldest children look for work in Cairo and support the family at home in Berba. Although people have to look for work outside the village it is still a very agricultural village. There is no starving in Berba but many families have to live from a few pounds (1 EUR = 7,8 EGP) a day which officially means poverty.
In Berba today you find 12 mosques but still only one Coptic Catholic Church. As in daily life Christians and Muslims have not the same rights it is a 18 years fight to build a new and larger church. Now after the Revolution people realised that in the last 15 years there was a strong but secret mission by the Salafist Muslims. Berba is far away from Cairo and the people mostly feel only the bad troubles raised by the Revolution: More criminals, more corruption, more arbitrariness, less security, less maintenance of infrastructure.
The Sisters of Notre Dame de Sion live in a private house where there is also the Kindergarten for the handicapped children. They support the very active Christian community. Especially the “Garden of Joy” is an important place for meetings and playing which was initiated and still is organised by Sr. Juliana.
As foreigners its hard to find your way from the towns of Minia or Abu Gourgos to Berba as there are now roadsignes. But staying in Berba with the Sisters is a very calm and comfortable way to get to know Egyptian peoples daily life. Being guest you are not hassled as a tourist.