Egypt 2010 - Following Traces of Alexandrian Women

In March, the Society for the Preservation of the Cultural Heritage of Alexandrian Women, together with the Kompas Tourist Agency, prepared a package trip for a visit to Egypt. A group of travellers took part in this trip, most of them the descendants of Alexandrian women and members of the Society.

We set of on 24 March 2010. The very next day, on 25 March, a solemn celebration took place at the Cairo Latin Cemetery (Cimetiere latin de Terre Sainte le Caire at the Rue Fom El Khalig Street) on the occasion of the unveiling of a memorial plaque to all Slovenians buried in Egypt. The Slovenian Ambassador to Egypt, Borut Mahnič, the Chief Secretary of the society Slovenska izseljenska matica, Janez Rogelj, and the President of the Society for the Preservation of the Cultural Heritage of Alexandrian Women, Dejana Baša, took part in the celebration. Representatives of the Slovenian community in Egypt also attended the celebration, among them also the descendants of Alexandrian women, and were joined by other representatives of the Embassy, School Sisters Margerita and Kristina and travellers from Slovenia.

The central part of the memorial plaque was made in Slovenia; it was designed by Vladimir Pezdirc. On behalf of the Society, Dejana Baša prepared a cultural programme of the event and moderated the celebration. Vili Prinčič, playing on his harmonica, and Ernesta Dejak Furlan, reading two sections from the book "Grenko morje" (Bitter Sea) by Marjan Tomšič and a poem by Valrija Zorn, completed the event. A candle from Sveta Gora (Holy Mountain), the sacred pilgrimage site above Nova Gorica, was lit at the cemetery and we paid tribute by laying down a bouquet of flowers brought for this purpose from Slovenia.

During our trip in Egypt, we recorded graves (photographs and recording of names) and Slovenian names on tombstones. We extended our sincere thanks to the Sister Superior from Kairo, Sister Margerita who enabled us to conduct a smooth research at the Cairo cemetery. The recording was conducted by three members of the Society: Tina Mihelj, Dejana Baša and Daša Koprivec, PhD. At the same time, we made a record of Slovenian names entered in books and buried at cemeteries. Miheljeva, who stayed in Egypt few days longer, conducted the recording of names from books at the Alexandrian cemetery. Magda Ibrahim, a daughter of an Alexandrian woman and a local, assisted her throughout her work. As it is known, tombstones with Slovenian engravings are gradually being removed whereby all pieces of evidence that Alexandrian women used to live and work here once are slowly being lost. By means of our work, the names on tombstones will not be forgotten since photographs and records will be kept in the archive of the Society for the Preservation of the Cultural Heritage of Alexandrian Women.

During its research in Egypt, the group also visited the St. Francisco's Asylum in Alexandria where it was welcomed by sister Martina and other school sisters. We also lit a candle from Sveta Gora here. Together with travellers we stopped by the memorial plaque, set up at the courtyard by the Society in 2007 and thus paying a tribute to all Slovenian women who had worked and lived in Egypt.

We would like to extend our sincere thanks to everybody who had enriched and assisted in any way in the implementation of our programme. We are particularly thankful to sisters in Cairo and Alexandria, for their hospitality: Sister Margerita, sister Kristina, sister Martina and to other sisters of both schools. A special recognition is given to Magda Ibrahim who assisted us in recording Slovenian names at the cemetery in Alexandria. We are thankful to the Office of the Republic of Slovenia for Slovenians Abroad, the Nova Gorica City Municipality, Society: Slovenska izseljenska matica, and the Slovenian Embassy in Egypt.