We Four in Egypt

Now back in the US!

Pig flu fever, part 2

Egypt's goats can't keep up with all the garbage (photo from NY Times)

Egypt's goats can't keep up with all the garbage (photo from NY Times)

H1N1 hysteria continues to sweep across Egypt. Last week, the government postponed all schools until early October; many Egyptians schools were already set to open late, after Ramadan, which just ended last night. But they also went ahead and suspended classes for schools that were already in session. Giggle is on holiday for Eid el Fitr, the holiday after Ramadan ends, and was supposed to be back at school on Tuesday. But now classes are cancelled for two whole extra weeks. This is in a school which so far has had no cases of H1N1.

A lot of people in Egypt travel for Eid el Fitr, some to Saudi Arabia and Europe, where there have been higher incidents of H1N1. Apparently (?) the government is worried that people will bring back flu from their trips, so they’ve delayed school to give people time to recover.

Except now more people are traveling and many of those already traveling have extended their travels.

And, lots of kids are missing school, like Giggle, who has been learning so much in first grade. The teachers sent home lots of activity books and reading books for the break, but the work at home can’t replace the great things they’re learning in the classroom.

The H1N1 panic has another terrible consequence. In May I blogged about the government’s early reaction to swine flu fear: the slaughter of all of Egypt’s pigs, who were an integral part of the city’s waste system. An article in today’s New York Times discusses the results of this: garbage in the streets. The garbage collectors used to collect all organic waste to feed to pigs, who then became meat for the garbage collectors to eat or sell. Now, without any pigs, the Zebaleen aren’t collecting organic trash, and it’s piling up everywhere.

The New York Times says,

What started out as an impulsive response to the swine flu threat has turned into a social, environmental and political problem for the Arab world’s most populous nation.

It has exposed the failings of a government where the power is concentrated at the top, where decisions are often carried out with little consideration for their consequences and where follow-up is often nonexistent, according to social commentators and government officials. …

Cairo’s streets have always been busy with children and littered with trash.

Now, with the pigs gone, and the schools closed, they are even more so.

20 September 2009 Posted by | our life in egypt | 2 Comments

Crazy figs.

My kids like to go to Fagnoon, an art school for kids and adults outside of Cairo.

They also like to eat Fig Newtons.

Today I showed Giggle a photo of him working on a pottery project at the art school. “Fag Newton!” he exclaimed.

Indeed.

5 September 2009 Posted by | our life in egypt | Comments Off on Crazy figs.

Two years in

It’s been two years!

One year ago, and two years ago, I asked for your questions.

What questions do you have for me now that I can’t really remember what it’s like to be new here?

3 September 2009 Posted by | our life in egypt | 2 Comments

Read this book!

The Nine Pound Hammer by John Claude Bemis

The Nine Pound Hammer by John Claude Bemis

The Nine Pound Hammer is a new young adult novel by North Carolina teacher and musician John Claude Bemis. And it is fantastic. The novel is historical fantasy based on American, and especially African American, folklore, set in the early 1890s in the American South. The book draws on lore of John Henry, hoodoo, bottle trees, African American traditions, and other Americana. It’s well-written and beautifully imagined. It’s especially refreshing for its multiracial cast of characters (unlike most classic fantasies, where the good guys are white and the bad guys are dark).

I was so excited to read this book–and I wasn’t disappointed–because the author is an old friend of mine. The Nine Pound Hammer is the first novel in a trilogy, and I can’t wait to read number two next summer.

1 September 2009 Posted by | books | 1 Comment