Egypt reflections by Robin Logie

10 March 2023

I am on the flight home from Egypt with some time to reflect on my five-day visit. It was Sian Morgan who asked me to do a Consultants Training in Egypt with Homodi Kayal.

Hamodi is a UK based EMDR Consultant, Facilitator and member of the Accreditation Committee, originally from Palestine, whose first language is Arabic. I first met him at the national conference in Cardiff in 2022 and suggested we did the training in person in Egypt which he enthusiastically agreed to. I got on with him very well and felt confident that it would be much easier having him with me since he speaks Arabic and had already facilitated at trainings in Egypt with Matt Wesson.

Kath Norgate (Consultant, Facilitator and President Elect of the EMDR Association UK) volunteered to join us and, since the Trauma Aid UK Committee thought it would be better with three of us, she came along too and was a very valuable addition to the team.

After a 5-hour flight we landed in Cairo where it was chaotic but Hamodi looked after us impeccably.

We were picked up from the airport by a car booked by Osama Refaat, Professor of Psychiatry and

President of the Egypt EMDR Association.  The hotel is on the island of Zamalek on the Nile with a wonderful Nileside view out of our bedroom windows which faced due East to catch the sunrise each morning.

Surprisingly I didn’t feel tired the next morning as we got into Osama’s car together with a guide who he had hired for the day. Our first stop was the step pyramid at Sakura followed by the most famous pyramids at Giza. We saw them first really close up and then drove to a more distant place where one got a better view and selfies were a must, particularly as tourist camels were wandering around in the background. The next stop was the famous Sphynx which was actually quite difficult to properly view due to it being in a bit of a dip. After saying goodbye to our excellent guide our last stop was the Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza. This will not actually be officially opening for another two months but Osama has friends in high places and got us in for a guided tour of the central areas of the building.

It is a stunning building and Kath was incredulous that I hadn’t immediately noticed that it was all based of pyramidical triangles! Dominating the main hall is a massive statue of Ramses the Second which had been painstakingly transported for central Cairo on an 8-hour night-time journey. We were collected by Abdulrahman (one of the participants) and drove about 15 minutes through the chaotic and scary traffic to the venue in the city centre which had been hired by Osama for the training. We entered a very old building and boarded one of the dodgiest lifts I have seen for a long time.

The trainees comprised 20 EMDR therapists, many of whom were very experienced, from seven different countries across the Middle East and North Africa (Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco). They were a lively group, asking intelligent questions.

On the second day of the training the role plays started, after a demonstration by Kath and Hamodi, we divided them into three groups.  Hamodi had worked out so that each was mixed ability and he had the ones with the poorest English so that they could do it in Arabic. By the way, the only Arabic I learned was “shukran” (“thankyou”) and “la la la” with a wag of the finger (“no, no, no!”).

After we finished, Adbulrahman drove us to the souk (market) where half of the trainees were sitting round a big table at a sort of café/bar.  We were advised to try this sort of drink, with a glass of warm milk into which you mixed your choice from several little containers of coconut, nuts and raisins. It was sweet and tasted like some kind of nursery food, neither pleasant nor aversive.

On Day 3 of the training they got started with their presentations, mostly excellent, especially the dramatic representation of the brain (the four characters being the Amygdala, Hippocampus, Cortex and Traumatic Experience).

This morning we finished off the presentations and all that was left was my group supervision demonstration before all the mutual congratulations, group photos and selfies took place. I felt quite emotional and got a bit teary. It was such a wonderful group to work with and it was important to facilitate people from such a disparate group of countries to meet each other.

One last sit in the café with Osama where we had been a couple of times for lunch in the sunny courtyard (where one of our trainees told us she has first been introduced to her husband thirty years previously) for a Turkish coffee.

So that’s it. Not much of my laptop battery remaining and just an hour or so left before we touch down at Heathrow. That’s been a great way of whiling away the flight.