Page 4 of 5

image Click for more images

“The first challenge we face regarding maternal and child care is unawareness, then poverty and then illiteracy,” says Sister Salwa. Once a week, Sister Salwa and Dr. Hanne Lufti present relevant information to the women on aspects of maternal and infant health. At the end of the seminar, Dr. Lufti holds a clinic where she can treat or advise the participants.

“I try to make the most of the doctor’s knowledge and presence,” says Amal Ramandan Orabi, a mother of three from Izbet Chokor.

Since 1970, the year Waheed Zaghol first set foot in Izbet Chokor, the Christians and Muslims of his generation have witnessed a progressive development of services, culminating in a prolific community center.

Mr. Zaghol’s sons, Mourad and Wael, helped build various parts of the center. His grandchildren attend its preschool. Wael’s wife, Hanen, teaches in the center’s special-needs section. Mourad’s wife utilizes the services of the mother and child clinic.

In this respect, the Zaghol family is not exceptional. The St. Paul Service Center’s success — and indeed the success of Izbet Chokor as a haven of interfaith harmony — owes to the simple fact that everyone in the village has a stake in building that reality. The center merely crystallizes this shared will.

“Yes, the service center is special. It’s the banner of the village,” Mr. Zaghol says. “But there is still room for improvement. We need to upgrade and we need to expand more in health and education.”

While the establishment of basic health and educational services has long been a priority for the church in Izbet Chokor, these efforts have recently been accompanied by physical, infrastructural improvements to aspects to the village.

For example, a project called the Samaritan Homes seeks to ease the hardship of single or widowed mothers by renovating their homes and offering the women a monthly stipend for essentials. So far, 18 women and their children have benefited.

Another area of improvement concerns the canal; because many residents also use it as a dump for sewage and trash, Al Bahr is becoming a toxic lifeline.

“The kids would go swimming in the canal, and they catch all sorts of diseases including liver and kidney infections,” says Sister Hél&egrvae;ne, of the Little Sisters of Jesus.

A long-term goal of the church is to provide proper sewage disposal for the village and to dredge the canal — a costly and time-consuming proposal. In the meantime, the church has an interim solution: the swimming pool.

Come early evening, the pool is easily the most animated feature of the service center.

A recent hot evening saw the pool filled with children on summer camp, visiting from their Coptic Catholic parish in Manhary village, near the city of Minya, some 110 miles south of Izbet Chokor.

“Izbet Chokor is quiet and there is space and calm for us to do what we wish,” says Joe Bishay, 15, who works as a lifeguard.

Post a Comment | Comments(0)

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |