Home at Last
Latino nuns open their hearts and homes to needy girls in Egypt.
Amira still does not talk much, except with her eyes. A year after the sisters took her in, the 3-year-old is still recovering from the hell that was her home. Now her brown eyes are full of life and her expressive eyebrows, lifting and furrowing, say what she cannot: that she has been rescued, that she is lucky, and that somehow she knows it.
Amira is from the dusty Egyptian town of Dekhela near Alexandria. Here the
sisters of the Incarnate Word Congregation from South America have set up two homes for girls who used to live on the streets. Some of the girls, like Amira, have escaped abusive families, while others seek an education, regular meals, or just a warm bed. All the girls in the sisters’ care come from Christian families because taking in Muslim girls is almost impossible due to cultural and religious constraints.
Sister María Guadalupe, the superior of the community in Egypt, highlights the poverty and lack of social services in Dekhela. “These girls were living with their families in one room,” she says. “No bathroom, no kitchen, just one room. Sometimes there would be a bed and that is all. So the girls were spending all their time in the street.” Their education was very limited because many families consider education of girls a luxury, she says.
At first, the girls spent weekday mornings with the sisters, who taught them everything from the alphabet to hygiene. “But they would go back to the streets and forget everything,” says Sister María Guadalupe. So the sisters started to let the girls stay overnight during the week, but “when they came back to us on Monday morning, it was like beginning all over again. For example, they would be clean all week, but then on Mondays…” To escape their dire situations, some girls asked if they could live with the sisters permanently. They did not want to go home, and so the sisters open theirs to them.
—Excerpted from One magazine (Catholic Near East Welfare Association)
- What are the problems of the world that move you the most? What would you be willing to give your life for?