Fear does not interfere with nuns' hospital work in Egypt

Italian hospital Cairo

'It is the first time I am afraid to go out, really afraid,' said Italian Comboni Sister Pina De Angelis, from Cairo's Italian Hospital, who has been in Egypt for 28 years, reports the Catholic News Service.

The Egyptian army's takeover in early July, and its ensuing pursuit of people it claims are Muslim militants, have led to deadly clashes throughout the country, including within ear-reach of the century-old hospital where Sister Pina and six other nuns from five different Catholic orders live and work.

But fears of what is outside the hospital gates - including a spike in attacks on the country's Christian institutions - appeared to interfere little with the sisters' chores inside the historic medical facility built by Egypt's one-time vibrant Italian community.

Turning from the news on TV, Sister Pina reported that, as usual, she got up at crack of dawn and was often not in bed till well after midnight, in her role as co-ordinator for the hospital's other six nuns who serve as nurses alongside a much larger medical staff made up of mostly Muslims.

In addition to coordinating the nurses, corresponding with institutions outside the hospital, organising medical assistance for Egypt's Catholic clergy as well as for the occasional sick Italian tourist, Sister Pina said she also served as just plain friend to those in need.

'Sometimes (Muslim) patients look for me and want to talk. One older man, a dialysis patient, always asks to see me, and if he doesn't find me, the next time he sees me he asks 'why didn't you look for me",' Sister Pina told Catholic News Service.

Sister Pina said that as things got increasingly tense in Egypt, colleagues and friends asked her why she did not want to return to Italy. She said she responded that 'now is the right time to stay here because, first of all, I don't want to escape from difficulties, and second, so that Egyptians see that we are part of the Egyptian people.'

FULL STORY Fear of Egyptian violence does not interfere with nuns' hospital work (CNS) 

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