MCC workers return to Egypt

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Things in Egypt are quiet, says Tom Snowdon. People on the street are positively cheery. Most things are nearly normal, although cell-phone service and internet service is on and off. The traffic on the streets is in its usual chaotic state. Businesses are open and there is lots of food in the stores.

February 24, 2011 | Web First
Dick Benner, with reports from Cairo and Akron, PA | Canadian Mennonite
A women's literacy class, one of many sponsored by MCC in Malaway in upper (southern) Egypt and run by the Coptic Orthodox Church there.

“Our workers are trickling back,” report Mennonite Central Committee workers Tom and Judith Snowdon from their office in Cairo. “The airport is operating very efficiently and is not over-crowded. We have had some problems getting our workers back from Europe because of strikes there!”

“However,” Tom continues, “we are operating on less than all our cylinders here. Our office is in complete chaos because it is being painted. At this point, there is no point in being there as working is impossible. All is going well, though, and by Tuesday or Wednesday we should be putting the office back together.  It feels good to be employing some local painters at this point when the economy is struggling back to its feet.”

The Snowdons were among 13 international workers moved from Egypt during the recent turmoil but are returning to their work placements in Egypt.  Some of them, like the Snowdons, spent time with MCC friends in Strasbourg, France.

Things in Egypt are quiet, says Snowdon. People on the street are positively cheery. Most things are nearly normal, although cell-phone service and internet service is on and off. The traffic on the streets is in its usual chaotic state. Businesses are open and there is lots of food in the stores. The lack of consistent internet service hampers things a bit but, mostly, all seems nearly normal. A curfew exists from midnight to 6 a.m., making for quiet nights, even in Cairo!

“We are all now concerned about the terrible mess next door in Libya and we are wondering if Egypt will be the recipient of refugees.

“Thank you, everyone, for all your thoughts, prayers and kind wishes and messages. We greatly appreciate it!”

The decision to send 13 MCC international staff, including two children, back to Egypt was made in consultation with MCC partner organizations in Egypt who have assured MCC that life is returning to normal following President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation Feb. 11.

“Our partners in Egypt take hospitality very seriously and part of that hospitality includes protecting their guests,” said Jan Martens Janzen, a director of MCC’s Middle East program. “We know that they thought things through very carefully before they said it feels safe enough for MCC workers to return.”

Other factors considered in the decision to have workers return include general stability in regards to communication and banking services, said Martens Janzen.

MCC’s work in Egypt focuses on education and peace-building.

--Feb. 24, 2011

A women's literacy class, one of many sponsored by MCC in Malaway in upper (southern) Egypt and run by the Coptic Orthodox Church there.

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