Friday, October 24, 2008
Going Out With A Bang
Although they are illegal and quite dangerous, Egypt has a thriving fireworks industry at a cottage level. Small factories make what we used to call cherry bombs (wads of paper with explosive powder and a bit of grit in them that explode when thrown against something), rockets and firecrackers, all of which are part of traditional festivities on the feasts and at weddings in the rural areas. The people who work in these industries suffer injuries fairly constantly and the users of the noisemakers also are injured with great regularity. So when the police get the chance to impound fireworks they do...but one could truly wish that they'd do a better job.
A couple of days ago one or two truckloads (depending on to whom one is speaking) were seized by the police in the area near Shubramant. Concerned that they might be explosive...I would imagine that they would be...the police rather haphazardly hosed down the cargo with water and then dumped it. Where was it disposed of? In the desert, most likely near the Giza Municipal Dump just up the road from us. Day before yesterday, innumerable grain bags of illegal fireworks were appearing all over the area between Abu Sir and Zawia/Shubramant to the delight of the children of the area. After all, most of the garbage in the dump is checked over for recycling, so why not recycle it, right? From about 4 pm on Wednesday to the present the air has crackled with explosions fairly constantly. The first night it went on all night, with a lot of very crabby adults wandering around the next day.
Of my ridiculously high dog population, probably 90% are terrified of the noise of fireworks, so I have about a dozen dogs running in circles all day barking at the unseen threat or running for shelter under my legs, in my bedroom, in the shower, in the kitchen...wherever. After two days of this nonsense, they are no longer barking at explosions more than about 300 metres away, thank heaven, but a neighbour estimates the supplies at sufficient for about two more days of this lunacy. Who knows, maybe this will get them so overloaded with fear that they will stop being frightened? I'd rather not be using the technique however.
Of even more concern with the vast quantities of these fireworks being used is the fact that children are being injured by them in the villages. I saw one boy not more than about seven years old clutching a round cluster of rockets in his fist and showing them to friends with delight. Heart-stopping. My housekeeper confirmed that there had been injuries to children in the Abu Sir area and the local omda did try, although unsuccessfully, to stop the spread of the illegal bounty at the beginning of the siege. But there were simply too many to collect and they were already too widespread. One would truly wish that when the police do something for the public good, it really would be for the public good. Frankly, it would have been better to send those trucks on their way than to spread these things around the villages the way they did. Unfortunately, until a child is injured, the fireworks are seen as being relatively harmless by most parents who grew up with their use.
copyright 2008 Maryanne Stroud Gabbani