Serving People with Special Needs in Cairo

Editors’ note: Cairo-based journalist Magdy Samaan was moved by the work of Eastern Catholics among those most in need. For his feature article, Samaan visited a number of CNEWA-funded homes in a borough of Cairo that offer people with physical and intellectual challenges a sense of family, purpose and hope for the future, even in COVID times. Listen to his audio clip in which he speaks about his experience or read the transcript below.

Hi, my name is Magdy Samaan. 

I’m a freelance journalist, based in Cairo, Egypt. I work mainly for The Times of London, CNN and ONE magazine. I usually cover news stories related to politics in Egypt and most of the time it is not positive stories. 

In this issue of ONE magazine, I had the chance to work on a story that took me away from the problems of politics. 

Among the charities funded by CNEWA are the Good Samaritan House for orphans and Our Lady of Peace House for people with mental and physical disabilities. They are related to the Catholic Church and located in the same place, north Cairo.

I was touched by many stories I included in our piece, especially of those who serve there and how they do their work with love. Our Lady of Peace House serves around 25 people with mental and physical disabilities. It was amazing for me to see them working in workshops to produce candles, crochet carpets and other products with high quality, thanks to the dedicated supervisors, who instruct them.

Amany benefits from the sensory integration room at Our Lady of Peace House in Cairo. (photo: Roger Anis)

One thing I was told by many of the staff in Our Lady of Peace House that, before coming to work at the facility, they used to be kind of afraid of approaching people with mental disabilities or not sure that they can deal with them. But later, many people said, when they came and started working with them, they discovered that they are as pure as children and they loved them. This applies [to] many of us who don’t have enough information about these people and how they can deal with them. This lack of education about the mentally disabled people makes their life even harder, especially in a country, like Egypt, where the government doesn’t do enough to take care of them. 

I was touched also by Sister Afaf Zarif, the manager of the Good Samaritan orphanage. She’s like a mother for 32 orphans. She lets the boys and girls feel that they are loved and they are home. 

She tells them, “You are children of the King, Jesus.” 

I felt that they are really a big family who takes care of each other. The contribution of CNEWA might be a small amount of money, but it helps so many people who once lost hope.

Finally, I hope you enjoy reading the story

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

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