Delivering Hope During the Pandemic in Egypt
By Emma Reeves
08/28/2020 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Since Egypt’s first confirmed case of COVID-19 this past February, an estimated 80% of Egyptian Christian families became unemployed, according to ICC’s community survey. Lockdown removed the income of families, even separating some families from each other. Growing desperate, with no secondary income source, some parents sent their children to look for work. The virus not only disproportionately impacted Christian livelihoods. It also placed an additional stigma on those Christians who experienced the virus firsthand.
For example, one Christian explained how “after [my son and I] got infected by COVID-19, we couldn’t get work.” The job market had already shrunk, and no one wanted to hire someone who once had the virus. Christians found themselves twice discriminated against: one for faith, the other for health.
ICC saw how this problem was making it difficult for families to eat nutritious meals. Since July, 170 families were identified in Upper Egypt who desperately needed food. Christians in Upper Egypt often experience the worst persecution within the country. It is difficult for them to ask for their rights, as the question is often responded to aggressively. These food packages helped families stay healthy during COVID-19 and protected them from exploitation.
One father who received the package told ICC, “I have three kids, and I sell vegetables. I am not gaining a lot because people are buying very little. When I received the food package, I knew that God did not forget us.”
Another recipient added, “I was working in a bakery shop until I got infected by the coronavirus. Now I don’t work because I’m still sick. I thank God so much because he doesn’t forget our needs. Thank you for the food packages.”
ICC representatives distributed the food packages, careful to observe social distancing. Scheduling family arrival times helped keep exposure low when distributing food. For those unable to leave their home, ICC had the packages delivered.
“I have two kids and worked in a shop until I lost my job. I could not afford food, and we relied on my mother to eat. We were so glad that God sent us this food package,” said a local Christian father.
Christians in Egypt need continued prayer as the implications of the pandemic continue. While some lockdown measures have lifted and society is slowly readjusting, Egyptian Christians have always faced social ostracization. Moving forward, Christians in Egypt must find ways of living within a society that has only grown more segmented, fractured, and restricted.