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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_single_image image=”117898″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]09/08/2020 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – In Egypt, like so many countries, COVID-19 brought life to a screech­ing halt, particularly in one rural Christian village. Unemployment levels spiked, food became scarce, and schooling and education pro­grams completely stopped. Even Hope House, ICC’s program to lift Christian children in Egypt out of poverty through education, had to pause its activities

Yet, one Hope House program continued: child sponsorship.

Trapped in Poverty

Persecution has trapped Christians in pov­erty, isolating them from a quality education and well-paying jobs. The pandemic aggra­vated these problems. Participating children come from the most impoverished families, who have become increasingly reliant on Hope House’s monthly food packages dur­ing the pandemic. Many villagers fell ill, including ICC’s child sponsorship manager. Despite the risks involved with delivering the packages, Hope House staff knew that if this program paused, no one would help the families survive.

“The expenses are so much and there is not enough income,” said one father.

“My husband owns a donkey… Before the corona situation, the work chances were few,” a mother shared. “Now there are no chances anymore. Thank God that He helps us now.”

Preventing Child Labor

Once again, Christians found themselves suffering in ways incomparable to the rest of the country. Unemployment rates within the Christian population skyrocketed. Desperate families began looking to their children as a source of income, a situation which the child sponsorship program seeks to prevent.

Help came through monthly food packages and medicine.

“Sometimes my kids didn’t get breakfast in the morning. But after we get the nutrition of food through the sponsorship program, every­thing changed. Every day I wake up early and make sandwiches for my sons, so they are very happy,” said one mother. “I would thank the people who care about us.”

A Vital Community

The sponsorship program saved partici­pating families during a time of crisis. But the pandemic’s implications continue. The children lost months of education when their schools shut down. Hope House’s supple­mental afterschool program also temporarily closed during the height of the pandemic.

This community is vital, as the children are bullied and denigrated for their faith by their peers and Muslim teachers in the public school system. The sponsored children have missed the community and learning activi­ties at Hope House. One child shared, “I got annoyed so much because there are no games and learning. I miss the sharing game with the teacher and learning from her, too.”

Devoid of purpose and community, many sponsored children reported symptoms of depression and anxiety. Likewise, their fami­lies were stressed by a loss of income. An estimated 80 percent of the parents told ICC that they could not provide for their families.

Hope for Tomorrow

Thankfully, generous sponsors from around the world are lending a hand to support these families in need. One Hope House spon­sor, actor and advocate for the persecuted Nathaniel Buzolic, expressed, “Christ often reminded His followers that persecution will come to those who call on His name. If we, the members of ‘the Church,’ are not in a position of persecution, then Christ has put you in a unique position of opportunity to help those who are. By doing so, we show the world that we are followers of Christ’s way, The way, by loving His bride like He loved us. For me personally, It’s an honor to partner with Hope House to remind families and their beloved children that God’s Kingdom still reigns through the world’s worst darkness.”

In these uncertain times, it is more crucial than ever to help these Christian families. The combination of pandemic and persecution can be deadly. Hope House’s child sponsorship program helps them survive.

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