Child Sponsorship Highlight: Medical Burdens
03/23/2021 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Eight-year-old Mariam Atef and her family have faced medical issue after medical issue in the past year. The burden of required care, financial toll, and emotional drain greatly impacted the family. Mariam’s 18-year-old brother Mina has been the primary breadwinner for a few years now, as her father has a herniated disc and cannot work. Mina works as a day laborer, a sector hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, and inconsistently brings home a salary.
Mariam’s mother contracted COVID-19 this past summer and required significant medical care. Her father told ICC, “she was exhausted and she stayed alone in a room for one month. Then she felt good, but then she felt sick again and we needed a ventilator. We rented it here.” Mariam’s mother has since recovered, but her illness was a heavy burden for the family. She is now pregnant with her fifth child. When asked about her wishes, Mariam said, “for my mother to recover well, she is pregnant.”
In addition to her mother’s medical conditions, one of Mariam’s older sisters recently required surgery in the fall. Mariam also routinely struggles with anemia and worms. As a participant of the Hope House child sponsorship program, Mariam and her family receive monthly nutritional food packages as well as routine medical checkups for Mariam. Though these interventions help, Mariam often refuses to take her medication. All of these illnesses and medical issues have placed a strain on the family.
Regarding their financial situation, Mariam’s father said, “my older son works but he can’t afford us. I took a loan and bought houseware tools, but the purchasing power of people is so low. They don’t have enough money to live, so they can’t buy.” As Christians, Mariam and her family already face economic disadvantages and persecution. The cost of medical care burdens the family even more, requiring loans that will be hard to pay back on Mina’s limited income.
“My older son works but he can’t afford us. I took a loan and bought houseware tools, but the purchasing power of people is so low. They don’t have enough money to live, so they can’t buy.”
Despite all of this, the family continues to be supportive of Mariam’s education. During times of financial hardship, it is common for families to pull their children from school to enter the workforce or assist at home. With her parents’ encouragement, Mariam continued on her earlier wishes with her parents’ encouragement saying, “I want to continue in my educational path” and become a lawyer. Her parents said of the Hope House Center, “Mariam loved it so much. She was drawing and the teachers in the classes were supporting her so much.”
Hope House seeks to first meet the educational needs of a child and believes that education is a key step in breaking the cyclical persecution Egypt’s Christians find themselves in. It is ICC’s hope that Mariam will be a part of the next generation that will see the change for Christians. Hope House also believes in a well-rounded approach to addressing children and persecution. Hope House seeks to alleviate some financial burden from the family and to ensure the child grows up with access to basic and necessary medical care.
For interviews please contact Alison Garcia: firstname.lastname@example.org