19 June 2013
Santa Lucia staff member Iman Bibawi Iskandar helps a resident practice writing Arabic Braille in preparation for an exam. (photo: Holly Pickett)
Almost half of Egypt’s population survives on less than $2 per day. According to the United Nations, poverty in Egypt has risen sharply over the past three years. And when economic conditions worsen, those with special needs often suffer disproportionately.
In the neighborhood of Abou Kir, northeast of Alexandria, the Franciscan Sisters of the Cross provide critical services to many of society’s most vulnerable members:
Home to some 300,000 people, Abou Kir is named for an important Egyptian early Christian martyr, St. Cyrus. Today, the city has a large Christian minority (about 30 percent of the population), most of whom follow the Coptic Orthodox or Catholic traditions. …
The Franciscan School dominates Abou Kir’s main thoroughfare, which is lined with mobile phone shops, vegetable stands and idling taxis. The Franciscan Sisters of the Cross, a Lebanese congregation whose members run the school, know their facility is the most prominent institution in town. …
Next to the school, the sisters operate a pioneering project that, since the early 1980’s, serves one of the country’s most disadvantaged groups: blind children.
“This is a special Franciscan apostolate committed to caring for the blind,” explains Sister Souad with pride. “Their food, their drinks, their sleeping, their health care — from the time they wake up in the morning until they go to sleep at night — the Franciscans take care of everything.”
The Santa Lucia Home — named in honor of the patron saint of the blind — was built with funds from CNEWA’s donors and houses ten girls and eight boys from ages 8 to 18…
Most of the residents at Santa Lucia come from poor Christian communities in and around Alexandria or from impoverished areas of Upper Egypt, which lie south of Cairo. Many have experienced the stigma associated with being blind before coming into the sisters’ care.
To read more about the Santa Lucia Home, check out Liam Stack’s Blind to Limitations, from the May 2010 issue of ONE.
Tags: Egypt Children Sisters Poor/Poverty ONE magazine