September 9, 2009

Children & Play in Egypt

Look at the sod lawn!

Something I really miss about the States are parks. In the US, every neighborhood has a local free public park with a playground for kids to play and release all the energy they have. Here you have to go to one of the few cafes that have play sets and buy overpriced coffee or what have you to allow your children to play on a swing set or slide down a slide. How sad, right? What about people who can't afford that?

Tonight while having coffee with my besty B., we got on the topic of how a lot of children here get shortchanged, as far as childhood goes. Most people live in apartments so there's no yard to play so they end up climbing up the walls. Besides the fact that school here is too intense, there's no free parks or even a free public library. One woman I spoke to about libraries here was amazed at the fact that anyone can get a library card in the US and is trusted to bring it back and that most people do. There's a general feeling here that people can't be trusted. They can't be trusted not to park on the sidewalk so the curb is a foot high, for example. The library that opened here went to crap inside of a year. The books started to get stolen so we were no longer aloud to take any out even though we payed the yearly fee. The playground there had broken glass and all the swings/rides were rusty and broken so we stopped going. There's no free fun here folks. Kid's have to join paid activities, and those who can't, simply don't.

When some kids go play on the bouncy castle at the mall at 10LE for 15mins, while other kids are working construction or as a mechanic's apprentice, there's a huge problem.


  1. Anonymous1:58 AM

    Oh,I thought I'd just read this post and maybe comment later,but hey,you really shocked me.Maybe,I could get over the fact that there aren't any playgrounds,but no public libraries?Really?I've never hear of such a thing!
    I won't tell you that in EU we have lots of nice playgrounds and public libraries (even special ones only for children),because I know you know it.However,one thing I noticed is that in comparison to the time when I was a child,nowadays there're very few children playing outside.It's really comforting to know that tere're mothers like you who really make all the possible to make their children play outside.Keep up the good work :)!

  2. It is another thing I just couldnt believe about this place... like it just baffles me, seriously. I really miss the normal things - that we seriously took for granted - at home. Playing in parks, streams, forests... subhanAllah. It is sad to think if I had children they would be brought up without any of that. So sad :(( No wonder everyone just eats and watches tv. What else can they possibly do??

  3. I really hope the next generation can change that aspect of Egyptian culture. Why the lack of respect for public places? Seriously, the most disgusting place I have ever been was the bathroom of a train on the way from Cairo to Luxor. I don't remember seeing one playground in Egypt come to think of it.
    I really hope that kids like yours will work for change in the next generation. Keep up the good work!

  4. ya, when i visited i always thought it was strange that there weren't any playgrounds. do they have places called "el nady" or kind of like a country club where you are? my hubby grew up in one of those high rise condos so there was no where to play, but he said he was always at the el nady. all my nieces and nephews are very active as well there.

  5. no parks? omg i'd die..

    i was at a park last night! you better believe i gave that swing a ride..mmhmm..


  6. What is ironic is that the great Library of Alexandria is still an icon and one of the most famous Egyptian monuments.
    Since I was 5 I used to frequent the public library in my small town in Brasil. I still remember the smell of the books, the shelves...

    What a pity such untrustfulness!

  7. I will be going home soon and the one thing way on top of my list of things to do...LIBRARIES!!! I have missed those so much.

    Over here...what parks they do make are really nice for about a week...then by the end of two weeks just about everything that people were able to remove has been removed...all thats left is a few metal pieces sticking out of the ground etc...even the bricks that were the sidewalk are removed. Then people complain there is nowhere to go relax and have fun...sheesh.

  8. Jasmina. It really is a shame. Thank you.

    UmmTravis, Yea I can't understand it. Where's the problem? Why is it that there can't be good sturdy free play areas? I know, food and tv is the national pastime.

    Stacy aka Fahiima, I agree, people don't act like that in their homes so it's just a lack of respect indeed. I hope the same too, thanks.

    The Mrs. Yea there's a nady here or club but yearly membership is thousands each and to go in once is 20LE each then another 10LE for the playground. I guess the only way they can keep things decent is to have it cost a lot. Sad, really.

    Naseem, yea, that's not awkward, fun, I say.

    Living Away, we tried to go to the big library in Alex and we couldn't cause they said no kids under 6 and at the time 2 of my kids were under six, so was I supposed to just leave them at the door? It's pathetic.

    Coolred, I'm so happy for you going home! Yea I miss it too and book stores/cafes. That sounds just like here, Why do people deface public property? There's a real sense of depravity or something.

  9. I wasn't that affected by the lack of playgrounds during my time in Egypt since I didn't have children, but I still noticed and it still bothered me how little decent space the children had to play in! We had to go to private clubs to see grass!
    I could only consider living in Egypt if I knew we were "well off" financially to be able to afford the luxury of playing on grass regularly and other such things.

  10. That was something I also noticed in Lebanon. You had to go to the carnivals for outdoor activity, and there were designated parks, but they were more nature reserve and there was a good chance areas of them were mined. Nothing like caution tape and the threat of a lost limb to dampen your fun.

    On the flip side, the ruins are open to play--you can touch or climb on anything at your own risk--after you pay to get in. I find this frightening because of destruction of the property as well as danger.

    I always dwell on public and national parks when I miss Lebanon worst. It's true. There, they play with rocks and climb walls. Here, we play with toys in a sandbox like the one in my back yard. Alhumdulillah.

  11. We were talking about this at work the other day and saying that even the few green areas we have in Cairo are often behind gates which are locked so even if you wanted to go in and walk around you can't!

  12. Candice, yea, Egypt is great!....If you're loaded.

    Shawna, wow, scary. Alhamdulillah.

    Amalia, yea, I heard Azhar park is nice, I've never been. Don't know if there's a play ground or an entrance fee.

  13. Yes, I DEFINITELY miss the libraries and all of them have a children's section where they offer story time each week with activities on most days- one of the wonderful things about home. And let's not talk about missing hanging out in Barnes & Noble with the kids.... no other book store can compare.... sigh... I REALLY miss my home life.....

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