YMCAs in Egypt – Update August 18

Date: 18 August 2013

Samy is fine, Canadian YMCA friends talked with him yesterday. They also had to make numerous attempts before they could come through. I think the lines going in to Egypt must be overloaded by heavy traffic from around the world. I continue to receive automatic messages from the operator telling me things I cannot understand.

But there are no alarming news from the YMCA side of things. No new attacks on buildings and seemingly all YMCA people unharmed, as long as we are informed.

Samy continues to underline the importance of the moral support from YMCA people from all corners of the world. He is not particularly focused on material or financial support, but that we know about them and their situation and that they can feel the friendship from all of us in days of violence and fear and confusion about the future.

I would like to say thank you to all of you who have responded by sending small messages of solidarity and support. It has been read by our Egyptian friends and it is all very much appreciated. Please keep posting your thoughts on our website and social media.

Let us continue to pray for the people of Egypt, and especially for our friends engaged in the Egyptian YMCA, let us pray for a good future for this great country.



‘Now its like 70% safe in Egypt and today I am going to my Alexandria YMCA really I missed it and the roads and people feel safe not like before please continue to pray for Egypt I trust in Jesus that he can pass this days on peace thanks again for you prays.

Egypt YMCAs – Update August 17 – night

I have tried all night to get in touch with Samy in Cairo, but without result. He is probably very busy, or the telephone connections are really bad. I will continue to try to reach Samy, but there is absolutely no reason to believe anything is wrong. Sometimes the connection with Egypt is very difficult. And sometimes Samy is on the phone for a very long time. I will try to get more information from Egypt. More tomorrow.

YMCAs in Egypt – Update August 16 – night

I have just had my daily conversation with Samy Armia Nashed. Because of the curfew in Cairo starting from 19.00, Samy have had to leave the office early to make sure that he comes home before it is illegal to move on the streets of Cairo.

Today there has been trouble and problems very close to the YMCA building in Cairo, only 100-200 metres away from the building.

Friday was expected to be a day full of demonstrations and clashes, and many people have been killed in Cairo and also in Alexandria there have been at least 7 deaths today.

Samy is in regular contact with his National YMCA board, and also with all the 26 local YMCAs. Samy says there are many positive comments and grateful reactions from ordinary YMCA people in response to all the comments and statements of support from around the globe, as they can read on the internet and social media.

I am asked to share the gratefulness and comfort they all feel because they are not left alone and they feel part of a big, world wide movement of brothers and sisters.

Today there has been less dangerous focus on the YMCA buildings around Egypt, either because the police has set aside more resources to protect them, or, as in Asyut YMCA, a big property with a garden inside, where the young YMCA members are staying inside the property, in the garden, to make sure that if anybody tries to burn their YMCA, they can extinguish the fire.

Samy sounds more relaxed today, more at ease. Yesterday was a heavy day, very difficult. Today at least no new YMCA building has been attacked, and in Egypt just now lack of bad news for a little while is a big relief. But as Samy tells me, the country is on fire, both in Cairo and in Alexandria and all the way to upper Egypt.

We discuss what we can do to assist them, and still Samy is trying to get more information from the different parts of the country.

As soon as we have more concrete overview of the damage, we will come back to possible assistance to the YMCA in Egypt.

At the same time we hear different viewpoints from within Egypt, and from people in the middle of the turmoil reactions are strong to the different perspectives from the news on television and newspapers.

Meanwhile we pray for Egypt, for all people of Egypt and for a better future for this great country, having suffered so much so long.

And for Samy and his staff and volunteers in Cairo and all over Egypt, for Magdy and his people in Alexandria, for our Change Agents in Egypt – God bless you all in these terrible days of fear and violence. We are all close to you in our thoughts and prayers.

YMCAs in Egypt – Update August 15 – 21:45

Samy Nashed is the leader of YMCA in Egypt. His voice is sad, he sounds terribly tired. He is responsible for 26 local YMCAs in a big country. He walks to the office every day. I know the way, I know the building, Samy and I walked there together in happier days. It is a beautiful YMCA building, a bit of the old school. Nice architecture, a hostel with space for many young people, offices, meeting rooms, activity rooms. A cafeteria, a watchman at the gate. And Samy normally with a great smile and his mobile phone in his hand. That man has not ten minutes without a phone call.

Now he is tired and sad. He is calling the 26 local YMCAs every day. He walks different roads to the office, and it is not easy to find a way, because roads are closing down and there are all kinds of disturbances. But he gets to the office every day. And start calling around.

We had a long conversation tonight again. He asks me to say thank you to all the friends around the world for their thoughts and prayers.

He also tells me that at least 4 YMCAs have been under attack, the one in Menia in Upper Egypt is burnt out, another one is damaged and two other seems to have been rescued. Young YMCA people are trying to protect their buildings and put out fires.

Samy is warning them against getting involved in fights, and so far there is no information that any YMCA people have been hurt. But Samy is not able to go to the local YMCAs, trains are not working, cars are stopped and there is no way to travel.

All YMCAs are closed and Samy has appealed to the authorities to protect the YMCA buildings, but they are busy protecting government buildings and have no capacity to look after any other buildings.

Phone Call – August 14

I just spoke (August 14 at night)  with Samy Armia Nashed, General Secretary in Egypt YMCA in Kairo. Menia YMCA in upper Egypt was burnt today by a Molotove Grenade, but staff and volunteers are good, nobody hurt there.

YMCA in Kairo was closed today and most of the other YMCAs in Egypt, and so far all staff and volunteers are safe and unhurt.

Samy told me that 18 churches were burnt today, and he asked me to share his greetings with all YMCA friends around the world and ask all of you to pray for YMCA in Egypt and for the people of Egypt.

In times like these it is important to know that there are friends all around the globe and that we are close to our brothers and sisters in Egypt tonight and in the days to come.

A few days ago I met with the Egyptian participants at the YMCA Festival in Prague and I met people I was with at a youth training in Alexandria two years ago. Let us keep them in our thoughts and prayers tonight!

Johan Vilhelm Eltvik