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1st Abercarn & Egypts, 7th Wadi El Nil, Cairo
16/06/2020 By Alan Britt

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After a brief chat on the Cairenes Troop’s Facebook site it became apparent that we both were enthusiastic to arrange a Zoom Meeting between our Troops.

It was decided that it would be imperative an agenda be drawn up and circulated to our own Scouts for them to compile their own personal presentations to share with the Cairenes Scouts. This plan/procedure would assist in making it a success.

The Cairenes Scouts are based within a French School, of Christian denomination, within the city of Cairo. The school has a very imposing building within the city and is approximately 45 minutes form the historic and renowned Pyramids of Giza. The predominant religion in Egypt is Islam, i.e. 90% of the population.

Naturally, they speak Arabic, but also French and English; they communicated with our Scouts in outstanding English whilst ours attempted to speak, out of respect, in Arabic and French during their presentations. Their efforts were highly commended by the Cairenes leaders and appreciate by their Scouts.

 

We exchanged in pictorial form our traditional foods with their respective ingredients, but we must admit Egyptian food looked more appetizing. In exchanging Facebook messages after the call, both sides agreed to have a go at the respective dishes and exchange photos afterwards.

 

Our own Scouts presented a spectacular and amazing array of personal interests including photographs of local places and buildings of importance and historic interests not only in Abercarn but within a 10-mile radius from where some of the Scouts live. The Cairenes Scouts were particularly fascinated by the importance of coal mining in our area.

 

The Cairenes Scouts reciprocated and portrayed that traditional Scouting skills were evident and that they formed an important part of their Scouting today, e.g. pioneering, the patrol system and various activities.

They were in awe of our mountains, forestry and green spaces with one Scout shouting “look at the size of that” referring to a local football pitch. The leader asked whether we have deserts in Abercarn and the answer, with respect, given by one our Scouts was “no we don’t, only trees and fields.” They confirmed that they have very few green spaces or parks.

Both troops shared details of their home lives and personal hobbies; destinations for family holidays were varied between both troops. Very few ventured outside of Egypt with Alexandria (on the Mediterranean coast) appearing to be a popular travel destination.

School timetables of the Cairenes Scouts were shown and explained, from French, English and Arabic schools. Shocking to our Scouts was that the French school was open on Saturdays, but it was closed on Fridays. The lack of a 2-day weekend was the biggest concern of our Scouts! The Cairenes Scouts were impressed that many of our Scouts attend a Welsh school, and also learn French, Spanish and sometimes Mandarin Chinese on the side.

Individuals proudly shared their respective country’s uniforms and badges to each other with each Scout explaining what their own meant, and the names of their patrols.

We are now going to exchange badges and neckerchiefs, but owing to the unreliable postal services in Egypt we are to send ours to the leader’s friend in Toulouse who will make the relevant delivery.

As the meeting was coming to a close we were “Roomed” into combined groups of Welsh and Egyptian Scouts where they instantly communicated with each other asking and exchanging personal thoughts/questions and ideas that the meeting had given them.

This was followed by the Cairenes leader leading in the traditional KIM’S game whereby 30 items were shown and the roomed  groups had to work together to remember the items.

Sadly, this non-stop interactive International Scout Meeting had to close as a period of 2 ½ hours had flown by!

From a leader’s perspective this was a truly humbling experience where your own Scouts, that you lead and teach on a weekly basis about Scouting, its traditions and laws, portrayed mutual respect and friendliness to their fellow overseas Scouts, on this occasion from Cairo.

The Cairenes leaders stressed that, if we were to ever visit Cairo, over 30 homes would open up and welcome us into their lives. We kindly returned the offer, and look forward to chatting to our fellow Scouts and international friends again in the not-too-distant future.

 
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