What sets the Sudanese in Egypt apart from other refugee communities around the world is that most Sudanese live in urban apartments, often with 10 people or more crammed into one flat. Since only Egyptian children are entitled to free education by law, the Catholic Church is faced with the challenge of helping the Sudanese pay their biggest expenses of rent and school fees.
To combat these problems, Bishop Egidio has appointed two priests to care for the needs of this refugee community. Schools have been established to educate Sudanese youth. In addition, the prelate has opened a small home for single Sudanese women and a dormitory for single Sudanese men.
The Italian Episcopal Conference tries to help the Sudanese by providing some funds on a year-to-year basis. The Irish Embassy in Cairo has also provided refugees with some sponsorship. But the Bishop says an annual sum of $18,000 is still needed for the refugees. And that figure is bound to rise as growing numbers of Sudanese cross the border in search of shelter.
Most funding agencies want a project with a start and end date, the Bishop laments. But this never finishes. His gentle face turns sad. There is no end to the situation in Sudan.
Bishop Egidio has also helped numerous Egyptians to rise above their desperation and discover new lives. After the death of his father, adolescent Emad Fawzy lived on the streets of Alexandria; Emads mother found the wild youngster too much to handle in addition to the rest of her large family. Seeing that the tall youth needed direction, the Bishop invited Emad to stay at the vicariate and learn about cooking.
That was eight years ago. Today Emad still works at the vicariate as a cook. He is married and is the father of two children. Emad is known for his delicious meals of roast rabbit with pasta. With Bishop Egidios help, Emad has found his new life.
Really, God helps me, the Bishop says. Things happen
theyre like miracles, he adds, smiling. The Bishop asserts that God uses him as a channel of peace to relay blessings to others.
One man, seemingly distressed, asked for prayer from the Bishop during a service. Bishop Egidio laid his hands on the man head and prayed. After the service, someone asked the Bishop why he had prayed for a Muslim. The prelate answered that he never asks of someone his religion only someone in need of God healing grace.
Bishop Egidio continues to work toward providing aid for the needy in Egypt. Recently the Bishop said he felt strongly about providing lunch for the children of one of Alexandrias lower income districts. No one knew yet about the idea, but shortly after making the decision an offering of more than $14,000 suddenly became available.
Well, its another miracle, he says, his face full of joy. Bishop Egidio knows God provided for the needs of these children.
Bishop Egidio says he does not know how much money passes through his office he is merely the conduit God has chosen to support others. I have seen the hand of God in the way problems are solved, the prelate confesses. God understands the reality of Egypt. He has made me understand how to work with it and resolve our difficulties.
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Tags: Egypt Poor/Poverty Muslim Coptic Orthodox Church Sudan