After the euphoria of a change in power in Egypt, resolving the remaining issues is proving sticky in Egypt. Of course, not everyone is happy and protests in Cairo are routinely in the news. Sadly, since a large part of the economy was tourism before the political changes, the economy is in a terrible state and many Egyptian families are living on very little.
Although Egypt is a large country, only a small amount of land has access to fresh water, so the vast majority of Egyptians live very near the Nile. So, it’s a very urban country, and the differences between people are multiplied by their proximity to one another.
But, there is a bright side. We lived in Cairo for 3 years and the people there are truly lovely. They’re warm and welcoming. They’re fun and they enjoy life. They are as invested in their families as people all over the world, and so they protest to influence the future direction of their country.
But the protests keep tourists away and that leaves handicraft makers, tour guides, hotel workers, taxi drivers, fallucca (Nile sailboats) owners, and camel ride companies without income. The easiest place to see this is in the narrow lanes of Khan el Khalili market, where every shop represents the livelihoods of shop-owning families and handicraft makers.
Ten Thousand Villages buys handicrafts directly from artisans at a fair price and sells them in the U.S. They buy from three producer groups in Egypt, so have a look for yourself if you’d like: http://www.tenthousandvillages.com/egypt. I don’t have any affiliation with Ten Thousand Villages, but have shopped with them and respected their work for years.
If you’d like your kids to know more about Egypt than its current political issues, here’s a game from ancient Egypt and a well-loved recipe:
LAR WIYYA GAME
Ancient Egypt (Old Kingdom 2700-2200 BC)
– Sit on the ground with legs stretched out in front of you.
– Another person jumps over your legs.
– If you can touch them while they are jumping, you get up and become the jumper.
A warming drink, especially loved by children during Ramadan.
3 c. milk
3 T. cornstarch
3 T. sugar
Chopped peanuts, hazelnuts or pistachios
Grated, sweetened coconut
– Mix ½ c. milk with cornstarch in a small bowl.
– Put remaining milk in a saucepan on low heat. Add milk/cornstarch mixture. Add sugar. Mix and stir. Heat to simmering and remove from heat.
– Pour into mugs and sprinkle with cinnamon, nuts and coconut.