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Crisis in Egypt Raises Concerns about Welfare of Orphaned Children
The crisis in Egypt has heightened concerns about the well-being of the children in the care of Coptic Orphans, according to executive director Nermien Riad.
“I'm sure you have been glued to the news like I have been over the past week, watching the recent events in Egypt unfold. Our country will surely never be the same. But despite the extreme unrest, we still have major work to do,” said Ms. Riad. “We have been trying our best to stay in touch with our staff and volunteers to make sure that our children remain out of harm's way. Communication has been difficult. The internet is still down and mobile phones are intermittent.
The needs on the ground include food, cash, and other essentials because supplies of these are slowly running out in Cairo, Alexandria, and the Suez areas which have been hit the hardest.
Most of the families Coptic Orphans work with live in poor areas where supplies were already low. For what is left of supplies, prices are steadily climbing. Riad said that staff in Egypt has been in constant contact with volunteers to make sure our children still have the essentials; however, they have not been able to reach anyone in Suez.
Another rising concern for the charity officials is that there has also been widespread looting and crime as many criminals are taking advantage of the lack of police presence.
“Our biggest concern at the moment is for all of the widows and orphans who are without a male defense or protection during these unstable times,” said Ms. Riad. She noted that the protests have united neighbors of all faiths to pull together to protect each other and their property against looters. Our staff has been taking shifts to vigilantly protect our Cairo office with sticks and stones.
Even before the uprising began, despite the hope that the Coptic Orphans program can provide by assuring that the basic needs of these families are met, there is little that can be done to change the economic conditions in the country where unemployment is high and the prospects of getting a job once out of school are very slim. Despite the grim economic outlook, Egyptian society puts great pressure on young people to move out of their parent’s home, establish a household, become independent and get married.
Thankfully, with the hardships surrounding these families and many more, Coptic Orphans volunteers and staff bring hope and help to these families who truly need assistance to contend with their living conditions and to build a better life in the future.