Five members of the Tewkesbury Refugee Support Group Committee and a Cheltenham Refugee supporter went to see what Refuge Egypt does at first hand.
Tony Cullingford tells the story of the visit: “Refuge Egypt has been part of the Episcopal Church’s service to the needy of Cairo since 1986. We stayed at the guesthouse, next to the Cathedral, and the Partnership Office of the diocese helped plan and carry out our programme.
“We were able to visit many of the centres listed in www.refuge-egypt.org and were very impressed both by the high level of need and the wonderful dedication of all the workers at these centres.
“In the area of Nasr City referred to as Kilo 4.5 we saw the Medical Centre based in the Coptic Church building, then went on to the Sudanese Primary School in an apartment block, and then the Community Centre in another apartment. Finally we went to the Episcopal Church in the Heliopolis area to meet some of the Sudanese who were attending the Bible School there.
“Next day we went to visit the Medical Centre, the craft workshop for deaf people, and a Nursery. Usually many Syrians attend here, but there were Sudanese only on that day.
“On Monday we went to an apartment in the Maadi area to see the toddlers groups, and then on to the Deaf School.
“Next day we joined the team which regularly visits expatriate prisoners out at Canater Prison, before returning to see what happens in the Cathedral compound at Zamalek. Here many refugees are helped to register with the UNHCR; women are trained to get work as Domestic servants; there is a Craft workshop and another Medical Centre. Two of us also met some of the Sudanese Mothers Union, since Gloucester has a link with them.
“Included in the programme were visits to the Museum, the Pyramids,the ancient churches in Old Cairo, the Muqattam cave churches and a meal on a tourist boat on the Nile. We were indebted to Bishop Mouneer and his excellent staff, without whose help this would all have been impossible.
“Our overall impression is that a really good job is being done to help some of the thousands of needy people in Cairo, and this organisation fully deserves our support. We ourselves were very impressed by the way that what was a small organisation in our time (1997-9) has grown enormously, with many dedicated Egyptians serving in a variety of ways, encouraged by the inspiring leadership of Bishop Mouneer.”
Report by Tony Cullingford (husband of Connie who ran the Guesthouse from 1997 -1999). Photos by Richard Haynes.