Saturday, November 18, 2006

Cairo Apartments

It doesn't really show up here, but these buildings, like many of the apartments we saw in Old Cairo, have rebar sticking out of the bricks at the roof. To our American sensibilities this seemed strange - looked messy and potentially dangerous. But when I asked why it was there I was told this makes it possible for families to add on another level for other generations when children are ready to marry. Egyptian family life is condusive to multiple generations living in close proximity. Beyond that, in a city of 22 million people there simply isn't enough land available to build individual housing units. Nor is there enough money for most families. The high income Egytians live in the new suburbs with shopping malls and more modern conveniences. Nearly everyone left residing in the old city is extremely poor. We saw people rummaging through trash heaps for what they could salvage. The disparity between the haves and the have nots was quite extreme. Realizing that whole families there live in apartments the size of my bedroom made me ponder long and hard about my relationship to resources and to consider deeply where both my obligation and my opportunity to share my abundance with others can lead.

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