02/06/2020 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Imagine waking up to find that there is no food left in your house. No running water or clean clothes. No medicine and no opportunities for a future.
This is the reality for many Egyptian Christian children. Christians in Egypt are treated as second-class citizens at best. But the situation does not steal their joy or dreams. They hope for a better life. By pairing sponsors with some of the poorest Christian children, ICC’s child sponsorship program makes this dream come true.
Hana Youssef is one of several children who needed a sponsor. Hana attends Hope House, ICC’s after-school educational center that assists these young, ostracized Christians. He lives far away but benefits from ICC’s free transportation to the center.
Hana is a shy child but eager to express his dreams and desire for education. His Muslim public school teachers treat him poorly. According to Hana, one of these teachers “is very hard and violent. He usually hits the students and punishes them for no reason. He supports the other kids in fighting the Christian kids. I don’t understand why he does this.”
As soon as the public school day finishes, he is eager to finish his homework and attend Hope House. “I love the teacher who treats me well. She is so calm; she works in Hope House. I love the Hope House Center. My dream is to work as a lawyer. I want to help weak people.”
Children eligible for sponsorship live in the poorest of conditions and receive regular visits from Hope House staff who provide food, medical care, mentorship, tutoring services, and spiritual discipleship.
Visiting Hana is not easy. “We move in very narrow streets where sometimes we have to change streets because it was so narrow. The vehicle couldn’t go in,” said ICC’s team. “[When] we reached Hana’s house, his parents were waiting for us with a big, warm smile. It was a small house, just 500 square feet, but the family was happy to have us.”
Though just nine years old, Hana is the oldest son among four siblings. The family earns an income of $90 a month, hardly enough to feed Hana’s brother and sisters. Sponsoring him keeps him in school rather than earning a wage to provide for his family at such a young age.
For Hana’s father, child sponsorship means that his son can have opportunities he never was able to grasp. “I am a carpenter. I am not educated because my father passed away when I was three years old,” his father said. “I missed a lot of things that a child would enjoy growing up because I had to go to work at 10 years old. I want to see Hana educated and reach his dreams and have the chance I didn’t have.”
Hana’s education also allows opportunities for the whole family to grow in their faith. He keeps a Bible close to his bed, quipping, “Every day I memorize verses and even Psalms.”
“Hana memorizes the Bible very well,” said ICC’s team. “The dream of his father was to read and memorize the Bible.” However, since his father was denied an education, reading is a challenge. Hana likes to talk with his parents about what he reads in Scripture. “Sometimes, Hana asks a good question, but his parents don’t know the answer. So they encourage their son to ask the pastor, and he will answer in a good way.”
The sponsorship program gave Hana back his childhood and allowed his family the opportunity to grow closer together. There are many other children, like Hana, who are in need of sponsorship.
But it is not only your sponsored child who will benefit from participating in the program. You will also be deeply blessed by this ministry.
“I don’t want my kids to live in a bubble,” said one father whose family sponsors several children. “I want them to be sincere about their life and faith and not take it for granted. That has to start now, from a young age. I have each of my children sponsor a kid the same age from the Egypt program. We share letters every six months and write a response. It is very engaging, and it creates a lot of curiosity. It gives us the ground as a family to sit and explain more about persecution.