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Egypt

Educating Girls: One Man’s Argument

Yasmine Cathell's picture

I first learned about Qasim Amin in a Contemporary Islamic Civilizations class while studying at university, and could not help but wonder where I would be if it were not for this man. My grandmother most likely would not speak French and English in addition to her native Arabic, and chances are that my mother would not have had the opportunity to attend an all girls school in Cairo and then go on to attend university.
Photo: Yasmine Cathell

Sharing and comparing

Christine Sedky's picture

The more I encounter issues about artisans, the more I try to see how others have solved and overcome similar challenges. Of course there are individual issues according to the craft and sometimes local social issues. But many times there is much to be learned from others' mistakes. Which has really made me step back and think about how generally countries are grouped into regions.

Ramadan Karim!

Christine Sedky's picture

Tables are set-up on the streets, work days are condensed, traffic is horrendous, people are fasting all day (so tempers sometimes flare) and there are gatherings and celebrations every night. Welcome to Ramadan, the Islamic Holy month, in Egypt, which this year is from August 22 – September 22 (approximately). It is also really hot this year! Ramadan is a time of giving back to communities and the poor.

Of Ecuador and Egypt....

Christine Sedky's picture

When you don’t have to go into an office for your job the lines between work and life become very blurry. Even my vacations now always include informal craftsmen/craftsmanship research. Every trip I have taken this year, whether in Egypt or outside I have found local artisans, heard stories about their lives, their crafts and researched their traditions.

glass of tea...

Christine Sedky's picture

I have come to really enjoy the rituals that I have developed working here. To say the very least, working with poor artisans in Egypt is the polar opposite environment from working in corporate America. Day-to-day interactions include lots of tea, no emails, no credit cards and the satisfaction of being surrounded by people who work with their hands and produce beautiful items. Don’t get me wrong, people in Egypt with more corporate jobs might as well be in NYC, LA, DC or London.

Waiting Around..

Christine Sedky's picture

I used to hate waiting around, being stuck in traffic, etc. But now I have learned to embrace it.  Don’t get me wrong, I still would never prefer to be stuck in traffic for 45 minutes or wait for people for over an hour. And I am usually running late, but I have been trying to adapt the same sense of ease with time. In DC I felt like I was always 5 minutes behind while trying to make sure I was at least at places a minimum of 5 minutes before the meeting. Here if I am within ½ hour of the appointment I am at ease.

masks everywhere

Christine Sedky's picture

I am getting texts and calls asking me if I am okay. The building down the street from me is quarantined. People on the street are wearing masks. I am going to a dinner and someone texts me about how many people are going  b/c of the swine flu scare. In the airport if you get off an international flight you are greeted with masked faces and a thermometer.

Obamania in Cairo

Christine Sedky's picture

Some were excited, some were told not to stand on their balconies, and many were even given the day off of work. Cab drivers were saying it was a great day…Why? Because although many presidents have come to Egypt (mostly to Sharm El Sheikh, a resort on the Red Sea) this was the first time for a US President to come to Cairo. It was a big deal, with roads being paved and cleaned in the days leading up to US President Obama coming to Cairo. It was also one of the emptiest days on the streets.

Money or Art?

Christine Sedky's picture

So when I started to work with the khayameya I realized that my intention and the intentions of the khayameya workers were different. Not different in that we couldn’t agree, but just coming from different perspectives, which in the end turned out to be complementary. I had this idealistic, ambitious vision of simultaneously retaining craftsmanship, reviving cultural heritage, creating employment opportunities, etc…. For them, it is simply a source of income.

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