Tewkesbury Refugee Support Group – First hand Experience

Visit to Cairo in October 2017

Five members of the Committee and a Cheltenham Refugee supporter went to see what Refuge Egypt does at firsthand.

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 by 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 Cairo Poem by Sylvia Miles 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 6th October City just outside Cairo 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.

Report by Tony Cullingford (husband of Connie who ran the Guesthouse from 1997 -1999).  Photos by Richard Haynes.

 

Join EDA’s next trip

Bill Musk To Chair EDA

 

Canon Huw Thomas, MBE, EDA Chairman 2009 -2017 has retired from the chair but, as Bishop’s Commissary, remains a committee member. He is followed as chair by Bishop Bill Musk who was elected at the AGM in June, 2017.

The Rt Revd Dr Bill Musk was Assistant Bishop for North Africa in the Anglican/Episcopal  Diocese of Egypt with North Africa & the Horn of Africa and also Rector of St George’s Church, Tunis from 2008 until his retirement at the end of 2015.

Bill was ordained in 1981 and served for six-and-a-half years at All Saints’ Cathedral, Cairo in Egypt.

Bill had previously had responsibility within Living Bibles International for its Middle East work, covering countries/languages from Afghanistan to Morocco, Turkey to Egypt, and had also worked with Operation Mobilisation and Middle East Media.

In 1988 Bill and his wife Hilary were selected as CMS mission partners to work with the (then) Islam in Africa Project based in Ibadan, Nigeria. While waiting, for nearly a year, for a visa that never materialised he worked in the CMS Personnel Department and did research into mission partners’ service patterns.

Within the UK, Bill served for seven years as Team Vicar of St Peter’s, Maghull and then for eleven years as Vicar of Holy Trinity and St Matthias, a multi-ethnic church in Tulse Hill, south London.

Bill is a well-known Islamicist and the author of several books: The Unseen Face of IslamTouching the Soul of IslamHoly WarKissing Cousins? and The Certainty Trap.

He and Hilary live now on the south coast of the UK. They have four adult children and five grandchildren (so far!).

2017 EDA Annual Gathering

Once a year friends, supporters and partners of the Egypt Diocesan Association meet and share in worship, enjoy fellowship where new and old friends meet over lunch, and attend to the association’s formal business when subscribers have a say in decision making and electing committee members.  We then hear news of the diocese and get an update of how things are in the diocese’s three regions.

This year was no exception – around 60 of us met on Wednesday 7th June at St Michael’s in Chester Square in London’s Belgravia, where Bishop Mouneer led the Eucharist, Rev Adel Shokralla read the lesson from Acts chapter 2; then together with Canon Huw Thomas administered the wine.

For the buffet lunch this year, we had a new venture and included “Koshari” the famous Egyptian dish which is widely popular among workers and labourers (and no, it was not home made cooking, but from a new Koshari restaurant in London).

The Annual General Meeting (the formal and statutory part), was completed and in addition to the approval of reports and accounts, Rev Adel Shokralla (vicar of the parish of Old Windsor and previously at St Michael in Heliopolis-Cairo) was elected to the committee.   The Minute Secretary Margaret Ford retired as she now finds it difficult to travel down from Lincoln to London to participate in the committee meetings.

Then came the big announcement of electing Bishop Dr Bill Musk become the new Chairman of EDA (more of which to follow).    Canon Huw Thomas has decided to step down after 7 years of the chairmanship.  Huw will remain on the committee as The Bishop’s Commissary

Other announcements made:

Plans to return to closer and direct links between the Diocese and the Church of England through possible clergy exchange, but will start with an offer from Ridley Hall College of a placement as a sabbatical for an Egyptian clergy graduate from Alexandria School of Theology.

A Study Tour of Egypt as a joint project with CMS (Church Mission Society) led by EDA committee members Dr Peter LeFeuvre and Dr Sarah Montgomery. The trip is from 10th to 18th April 2018 and is organised by the travel agents McCabe Pilgrims.  You can download the brochure and booking form here.   The good news is that by the time we ended the day, we had 12 names signed in.

THE HIGHPOINT OF THE DAY was the next item –  Bishop Mouneer shared with us a new video produced by the diocese which summarises the diocese and its ministry in 10 minutes “Have a Look”.  He asked us to focus on a very short clip of a student from the deaf school praying in sign language for the killers of 30 Christians travelling in a bus and the wounding of 25 others, with reference to St Paul’s experiences.

Bishop Mouneer also talked about the situation in the three regions and the difficulties facing the church and Christians in Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa.

He thanked members, friends and partners for their faithful support to the diocese, also citing the financial difficulties they face in trying to meet the ever growing needs.

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