Egypt - Imagine a playground ... a meeting place of cultures and peoples

19 April 2017

(ANS - Cairo) - Fr Dany Kerio is the Rector of the Salesian community of Zaytoun in Cairo where there is an oratory and a parish that accompanies many young Egyptians and South Sudanese. We asked him some questions.

The oratory playground is a meeting place of cultures and peoples. Can you say something about it?

Our chapel is frequented by street children, orphans, children of workers, middle-class young people ...  Orthodox, Catholics and some Protestants. Then there are also the South Sudanese, refugees and displaced persons, the tribes and ethnic groups that are enemies in South Sudan, but here they are at peace with each other. How many prejudices have been dispelled by mutual understanding!

Is there much poverty?

There has always been great poverty in Egypt.  Imagine what it’s like now, after six years without tourism, without US aid, with the difficulties in the Gulf countries and the tragedy of Libya. I do not want to speak about people eating from the garbage dump ...

How do people live the faith in Egypt?

Many people watch the Mass on television and other programmes from Christian broadcasters, and they fast. But at the same time pornography is widespread, there is self-centeredness, indifference and lies. The words most often heard are: malesh (it doesn’t matter!), bokra (‘ll do it tomorrow ...) and zorouf (it's all because of the situation ...).

And then there's the true faith! Many live Christianity as service of neighbour. They pay their tithes and much more. I know a man who lost his wife and mother in the attack on the church of El-Botroseya. When I went to offer him condolences he said: "Abuna (father), I envy them: they went to confession the day before. They were going to buy clothes for my future daughter. But they said: we are going to receive the blessing of God first ... and they went to the Lord. Happy are they!"  Happy are they!

Pope Francis will be in Egypt in late April ...

His journey is intended to show solidarity with the whole of Egypt, Muslims and Christians. Pope Francis has broken down many walls and prejudices. It is also a good opportunity for collaboration between Church and Government, Church and Muslims, Catholics and Orthodox.

You mentioned the young South Sudanese refugees ...

Unfortunately, now everyone is talking about Syria, previously it was Iraq, but they never talk about other wars, the forgotten wars ... It would take a book to recount the tragedy that they are experiencing here, where there's so much racism against blacks, against Christians and even more against Catholics.


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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