Inside Look: Egypt a Year Later

January 25, 2012 was as warm as a Spring day in Cairo. But will Egypt’s future be as warm in 2012? Let me give you a weather report on Egypt a year after the revolution, straight from the field.

Security Issues

A year ago today, our Cairo staff and neighbors were still taking turns pacing back and forth with sticks in front of Coptic Orphans’ Cairo office. They were the only thing that stood between our computers and trespassers after security collapsed during the revolution.

Today no one has to guard our precious equipment and child information. But we still hold only local workshops for orphaned children and their widowed mothers so that our volunteers don’t have to leave their families unprotected.

Convincing widowed mothers to keep their children in school—because of widespread child marriage, child labor, and other things – has always been a big part of our job.

But recently we’ve asked our prayer partners to pray for families who are trying to decide if they want to keep their daughters at home for a brand new reason: they hear rumors of girls being kidnapped on their way.

This has become such a widespread fear that a Middle Egypt diocese even starting arranging a bus to deliver girls to school last month.

Inflation

A sponsor visiting his sponsored child got stuck on a train to Cairo for 11 hours this month. Further up the tracks, protesters were having a sit-in over the high prices of fuel. We drove our sponsor back to Luxor and got him on a plane instead.

That was an unusual adventure – sponsors are visiting all the time right now without any problems. But protests continue in Egypt over the prices of food and fuel,

prices that led us to ramp up support for widows who might have to choose between education for their children and food.

Sunnier Skies on the Way?

Despite these gray and cloudy skies, there is a sunny side. We are sending more children to college than ever before from the poorest villages of Egypt, and seeing other extraordinary successes.

Just weeks ago at the High Achiever’s Celebration, we celebrated children for their talents in software, music, and for becoming literate for the first time – even though they had been in school for years before they became Coptic Orphans participants.

And the most exciting part was being able to give awards to some widowed mothers who have started businesses in 2011 that are flourishing. They once had nothing, but now they have the means to send their children to school and even help the poor among their neighbors, too.

The same evening I announced that we are going to help 500 more widowed mothers do the same in 2012.

So no matter what the forecast might end up being in 2012, I know that with your support we will see more of Egypt’s most vulnerable – the fatherless and widow – break the cycle of poverty for their families and reach out to others in need.

One Body with You in Christ,

Nermien Riad

About Nermien Riad

Nermien Riad founded Coptic Orphans in 1988 after volunteering for an orphanage in Cairo. When she saw that most of the children had living widowed mothers who simply couldn’t afford to feed them, she gathered family and friends to sponsor children in Egypt. Today Coptic Orphans works through a network of 400+ church-based volunteers in Egypt, who visit fatherless families in their homes and make sure they get everything they need to unlock their full potential. That way, they don’t have to get married off as child brides, work as 10-year old family breadwinners, or go to live at an institutional orphanage.