The Franciscan Fathers Center was established 32 years ago by a Franciscan Father, Tarcisio Di Piano in Abou Kir, a coastal city about 14 miles east of Alexandria, Egypt with narrow streets, high buildings and small apartments. Similar to many areas in Egypt, the community is very poor and illiterate with families of 8 to 12 members each.
Initially, the center consisted of a school. However, with time and due to the rising needs, the late Father Tarcisio Di Piano established a medical center in the basement of the building and an educational center ‘Santa Lucia’ which provides education and services to needy blind Christian children coming from villages of Upper Egypt. Being unable to commute to and from Santa Lucia, these children needed a home to shelter those attending the center. Today, 20 blind children, between ages 7 and 18, live permanently at the center.
In 1995, following the death of Father Tarcisio and lacking appropriate maintenance, the building was neglected and gradually deteriorated. Later in 1999, the Franciscan Fathers handed the operation over to the Franciscan Sisters of the Cross. Now the center is owned by the Franciscan Fathers but run by three Franciscan Sisters of the Cross.
In 2002, CNEWA built a three story building, adding new classrooms and increasing the educational level of the school from complementary to secondary. Now, 1,500 students are registered for the 2015-2016 academic year. The majority are Christian. A dispensary provides health care to around 12,500 patients a year, and attends to the medical needs of the 20 visually impaired children.
As part of the school’s curriculum and activities, it provides Christian formation for the primary school students and the boarding of visually impaired girls, as well as music and singing lessons. This activity eventually led to forming a student choir. Today the choir is famous among the Christian community of Alexandria. To improve their skills, and provide these marginalized children with a career and hope for a better future, the sisters requested to renovate and furnish two old rooms in the basement of their home to be used for the above activities.
On 1 June CNEWA/Pontifical Mission and through its funding donors was able to provide necessary funds to perform the needed works for this center.
In October 2015, among the projects which were visited, was the Franciscan Sisters of the Cross pastoral center. The initial work estimation of this project was $26,000 for rehabilitation and provision of furniture and equipment. During execution, CNEWA’s engineer was able to reduce the prices of some work items which were overpriced, and thus decreased the total cost of needed works to $20,000. As for the furniture and equipment, they will be provided by the institution. The breakdown of the works to be implemented is as follows: