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Relying on Providence to Provide for Egypt’s Poor

Editors’ note: Cairo-based journalist Magdy Samaan went out on assignment for ONE magazine this past spring to report on church-run health care services. What he found were religious women, who leaned on God for all things in their commitment to care for the poor. Listen to his impressions of this work in the audio report below. Then, read more in his feature article “Unconditional Care” in the June 2023 issue of ONE. A full transcript of the audio report follows.

The Franciscan Missionaries of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was the first female Catholic Order in Cairo, Egypt. It began its services in 1859, and many Catholic orders have since been established. Building schools and the dispensaries were two main pillars of the Catholic Church’s services in Egypt.

The Catholic Church in Egypt grew rapidly in the first half of the twentieth century and so did those services. But this growth has slowed in the last three decades compared to the beginning. I visited Minya, one of the poorest governorates in Egypt several weeks before writing the story about the Catholic Church health care services for ONE magazine’s summer issue.

If Egypt is suffering as a result of the economic crisis, Minya is suffering even more. People told me about their difficulties in providing food in the face of almost the daily price increases. When people in the village become ill, they must travel to other cities for treatment and many of them are already struggling to make ends meet, let alone pay for treatment, which has risen beyond their means.

So, it was encouraging to hear that the Missionaries of the Immaculate Heart of Mary are establishing a new dispensary in the Minya village of El Berba. Sister Clara, the head of the order, spoke passionately about their effort to equip the dispensary on the upper floor of the nuns’ residence and how it would serve one of the poor villages in a desperate need for health services, reassuring them that if they become ill, there would be someone to care for them, even if they run out of money.

The project, however, will not be completed unless God answers Sister Clara’s prayers by sending a donor to purchase medical supplies needed for running the dispensary, the cost of which has skyrocketed in Egypt in the past two years.

I hope God sends and answers Sister Clara’s prayers by sending a donor to help them.

Based in Cairo, Magdy Samaan is the Egypt correspondent for The Times of London. His work also has been published by CNN, the Daily Telegraph and Foreign Policy.

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