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Children whose parents convert to Islam are deeply affected by it. “You can be a thief or a murderer, but within the Christian community in Egypt you cannot have a parent who has converted to Islam,” says Sister Terese Dorias, 52, one of the three Elizabethan Franciscan sisters on staff. “This could interfere with your ability to find a suitable marriage partner.”

Consider, for example, the case of 15-year-old Yousef. Yousef’s mother converted to Islam and left his father, a construction worker in a small village in Upper Egypt. His father then placed Yousef and his younger sister Demiana at Good Samaritan, where they have been living for the last six years. He found a job as a security guard in Cairo and lives near the orphanage so he can see Yousef and Demiana regularly. However, when Yousef first came to Good Samaritan, he was severely withdrawn.

Three years ago, Sister Terese was brought to Good Samaritan specifically to work alongside children such as Yousef and to help them emotionally adjust to their life circumstances.

“I sensed Yousef was missing the love of his mother,” says Sister Terese. Her presence has made a world of difference for him.

“I wash his clothes. I iron them. If he is sad and I notice it, I ask him about it and he opens up to me.”

“She treats me like a son,” Yousef says. “I found someone I can confide in and someone who cares for me. I sense that she is there for me.”

Over the last few years, Yousef has excelled in math, science and soccer, and is particularly gifted at drawing. When Father William offered to arrange for him to receive private drawing lessons, Yousef replied that he would prefer to be a doctor.

“I told him that was fine,” says the priest. “You can be a doctor who is also a great artist.”

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Amal Morcos is a freelance writer who covers the Middle East. She last wrote about Syrian refugees in the autumn 2014 edition of ONE.

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