Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Last post from Cairo

UPDATE: Pictures included now.

This will be quick, because I still need to pack before we check out and go to dinner and then to the airport for a midnight flight. But I need to show you where we were today.

Muqqatam Hills is commonly called Garbage Village. It’s more like a small city. About 50,0o0 people who live in what might be called the city garbage dump. But it doesn’t fit any images I had of a mountain of trash and garbage with people scattered around looking for anything of value. Here there are apartment buildings and shops. The main industry is sorting garbage and trash for recycle, resale, reuse.

Muqqatan street

The most unusual thing is the presence of the church. There are 7 church buildings, all part of the same large community, with Father Simon at the head. This is a Coptic community with an unusually evangelical voice. Muqqatam is primarily Christian, making it the largest concentration of Christians in the nation.

Father Simon

One meeting hall is completely inside a cave. It seats 2000 people.

cave church inside cave

The main meeting place for the church is Saint Simeon’s, commonly called the Cave Church, even though it is only partly cave and there is another hall that is completely inside a cave. Still, there aren’t many church structures this size in the world. It seats about 20,000 people.

cave church

The ministry that grabbed my attention grows out of the decades-long work of one of our friends. An 8-story disability center is under construction. Among other things, this  will provide day care, therapy, and residential care for people as it is needed.

Muqqatam disability center

Muqqatam is seeing some hard times right now. Until now, this was one of the few places in a Muslim country where you could find pigs, since the community is primarily Christian. The pigs were the “disposers” for the edible garbage. At the height of the “swine” flu, the government killed all the pigs. No one knows yet what will happen with food refuse.


Another blow is that there are precarious boulders that threaten houses and more than 100 families below. Father Simon resisted the government’s demand that all be evacuated and the buildings razed. So the responsibility for their safety has been placed officially on the church. Removal of the boulders is underway and is a tremendous expense.

boulders threatening houses

These thoughts are scattered, but I need to fly–home! Can’t wait to see Talitha.

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7 Responses to “Last post from Cairo”

  1. can’t wait to see you too, Mom! I love you! see you soon!

  2. Noel, thank you for taking the time to share these photos – all I can say is WOW! Years ago we visited Egypt and the way they don’t finish the tops of the building make the area look like it’s just been under attach in a war – that’s the only way I can describe it – these pictures reminded me of that. I also was stirred by the “carvings” in the cave church – just beautiful!!! – especially the one of the tomb! Praying for safe travel for you guys.

  3. We listen to your husband via podcast and found out about your blog from his fb status.
    We appreciate you guys even though you don’t know us. thanks for your service. God bless.

  4. If we wanted to finacially contribute to assisting this community how would one do that?

  5. […] March 20th, 2011“Christians in Egypt face old discrimination”I posted photos and wrote about Mokattam Village in Cairo last year when we visited there. That area of Cairo is the home of […]

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