Jos Strengholt, Priest-in-Charge at St. Michael’s Heliopolis, Cairo, and Dean of East Cairo, leads an English, Egyptian and Sudanese congregation. The past few years, to escape the war, the Sudanese congregation has grown immensely and so also the number of children who have no school to go to. At the request of many of the parents, St. Michael’s is starting a primary school from September this year where 200 children will be educated.
The St. Michael’s Sudanese congregation has grown in the past years from about 300 to 900 embers, thanks to good evangelistic and social work, and because of the ongoing war of the Sudanese government against the Moro tribes in the Nuba Mountains.
Many Moros are Anglicans; when they escape from the war in Sudan and arrive in Egypt, they go to particular areas of Cairo where presently about 10,000 Moro refugees live. St. Michael’s Church created a social centre in this area, the St. Gabriel Centre, and now a school will be added to this ministry.
The Director of the St. Gabriel Centre, Shawgi Kori, took the initiative as he saw the need among his own community.
Shawgi says about the plans: in spring 2015 we will hire four apartments in one flat building; we will do some reconstruction work to make the place more suitable for a school, and in September we hope to open the doors.
The parents are so enthusiastic; you have no idea how much this means for all of us! Egyptian schools are not against accepting the children who escaped from Sudan, but in practice this does not work. Many of the Moro children have missed years of school because of the war in our mountains; so these kids cannot be integrated into the Egyptian system.
There are some other schools for our children, but they cannot cope with the large influx of refugee children.
Also, as they were started by English speaking expats, they teach in English. We do not want this. Most parents want their children to be educated on the basis of the Sudanese state curriculum (in Arabic), as this allows the children to do the formal final exams that are recognized in Sudan as well as in Egypt. This allows the children to eventually go to secondary school, and hopefully even to university. In our congregation, we already have the teachers we need for our school. These people presently work as cleaners or they do other menial work. For them, to be teachers again will be very honourable. Shawgi also points to another advantage of the opening of the school: the 200 children, we will accept in our school, are presently loitering at home so mothers cannot look for work.
So, when the children are enrolled in education, they will also be able to add to the family income.
For our families this means a lot! Jos continues: the initiative to start this school was taken in last year. We told our Sudanese leaders that we would only commit to do this project when the full running costs for the first year (and a bit more) and the start-up costs are guaranteed. We had to be a bit tough on this, because as a church we are already too financially stretched to take any financial risks.
We thank God that we have received enough financial pledges to be assured of the running costs of the first year that starts in September 2015; the start-up costs will most likely be paid for by one of the western embassies in Cairo.
We pray – and we trust our Lord – that we will soon be able to start this project.
|Published with permission of ICS [Intercontinental Church Society] www.ics-uk.org|