Village’s Last Christian Woman: Would You Leave?

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Imagine being the only young Christian woman left in a small village in Egypt’s south. Would you be intimidated enough to leave?

When Soheir lost her husband, she knew she had to face her community, one that looked down on women in general and Christian women in particular. There was no one to lean on and the support of her brother-in-law was too little to sustain herself, her aging mother and young son.

That’s when Soheir’s son joined Coptic Orphans. We helped her start a hairdressing business to get her family on their own feet. Through that business she thrived and succeeded in earning respect among the entire village community.

But four months later, tragedy struck again. Her brother-in-law died. His new widow told Soheir: “I’m leaving this village. We’re the only Christians left here, and we’ve got no protectors. Leave with me for your safety.”

Soheir was reluctant in making such a decision, but her sister-in-law left the village for Luxor City soon after.  What was Soheir to do?

We encouraged her to think, gave her a pen and paper and asked her to carefully weigh the pros and cons on each side of a line running down the middle of her dust-browned notebook sheet. Then, she prayed.

It was a flash of insight that settled the matter. “It wasn’t my husband and brother-in-law who protected me. It was God.”

Soheir’s courage to stay behind in that village and care for her ailing mother and little son amazes me.

As conditions in Egypt continue to change and get tougher, we believe that God is giving courage to Soheir and all Christians there. You and I need to stand behind Soheir and all Christians in Egypt who stand firm in their villages and communities.

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.