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Most Muslims in Beni Suef were upset, even angry, to learn what had befallen the school; many enrolled their own children there. A longtime community fixture, it was seen as neither religiously nor politically provocative.

“After the events, Muslim young people from the neighborhood came to apologize that they were not able to protect the school,” Sister Nagat says.

Although the sisters could not have afforded to rebuild with their own resources, the seeds they planted over decades of work within the community bore fruit.

When the army pledged to rebuild the buildings destroyed in the attacks, General Taher Abdullah, an alumnus, came to visit the school. Reminiscing about his time there, and speaking of his debt to the sisters, he helped to move the school on the top of the repair list.

About a year after its destruction, the building stood once more. It reopened to students in September of 2015.

Before the opening day, parents of the students came to help clean, decorate and otherwise prepare the classrooms.

“We all came to help because we consider this place part of our home,” said Eman Ali, mother of two students — Ali, in second grade, and Abdul Rahman, who recently graduated to a secondary school.

Abdul Rahman, 14, loved the sisters’ school, and would go as early as the doors would open. Adjusting to the “chaotic” system of the secular school he now attends has been a challenge.

“There is no education,” he says. “They deal with everything with beating and insulting. If you want to run from the school, nobody cares if you come or not.

“I got used to a high standard of education at the Franciscan Sisters’ School. But what I miss the most is the system.”

Mrs. Ali and other parents wish the Franciscan Sisters would add a secondary school, so their children could continue their studies with the same level of warmth and encouragement.

“Here, the children learn strong moral values, which helps us at home,” Mrs Ali says.

Shereen Bibawi, mother of second-grader Mahriel, agrees with Mrs. Ali, and is another voice urging the sisters to extend their school through the higher grades. Her older son, Philopater, now in his first year at a secular school, was ranked first in the class in his final year at the sisters’ school.

“I was crying when Philopater had to move to another school,” Mrs. Bibawi says.

Out of the 15 Franciscan schools in Egypt, the sisters’ school in Beni Suef is the only one without a secondary section. The school’s administration has responded to the wishes of the parents; last year, they began building a preparatory school in a building attached to the primary school.

But the work is proceeding slowly, Sister Nagat says, because of the lack of resources. But with the confidence and support of their community behind them, it is only a matter of time.

For 27 years, Fadel Labib Tobia, 47, has been working as a custodian at Salama Nashed Service Center in Samalut, about 120 miles south of Cairo.

While once alive with guests and activities, now Mr. Tobia says he cleans the rooms and finds them dusty again before they see use.

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