Thursday 13th February
Don't be fooled. Egypt may be a desert country but as I discovered upon rising on Tuesday morning, it is not always hot and sunny!
I awoke to grey skies, drizzling rain and temperatures little different to those I had left a few days earlier in Northern Ireland. Everything else was as on my previous trips: the jostling crowds of people, the noise, the crazy traffic and of course the Nile nearing the end of its journey to the Mediterranean, having already travelled through half the continent of Africa.
Despite the dull start the weather has changed and the past two days have been business as usual: blue skies, sunshine and temperatures which have allowed me to take my late afternoon walks by the Nile in a tee shirt.
Having spent my initial days in Egypt reconnecting with friends and acquaintances from previous visits, my work today began in earnest. Until I leave at the end of the month, much (although not all) of my time will be spent working with the Diocese of Egypt's refugee programme, Refuge Egypt.
The bustling city of Cairo alone is currently home to an estimated three million asylum seekers and refugees. Some come from Syria and Yemen, others from Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea and other sub-Saharan countries. For many of these people, their plight is desperate and the Anglican Church in Cairo is reaching out to them in their time of need.
Today was spent working with the Donor Relations department; administrative in nature but important nonetheless. Next week will see a visit to a Yemenese community and provide the opportunity to get involved first-hand in much needed food distribution.
Being a largely Islamic country, the weekend begins tomorrow (Friday) and that means church in the morning. Saturday will involve a visit to Menouf's Harpur Hospital for a Tree of Hope event and on Sunday I will travel to Sadat City and spend time at the Harpur Clinic where recent refurbishment has taken place. In my next blog I will reflect a little more of my experiences following the trips to Menouf and Sadat City.