Child Sponsorship Highlight: Fatherless
Maryam, left, in class at Hope House
03/30/2021 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – When Maryam Fathy joined Hope House’s child sponsorship program two years ago, she was an inquisitive young girl, and her parents looked forward to all she may achieve through the center’s educational support. Though she has grown immensely in many ways, her family’s life looks entirely different.
For several years, one of Maryam’s older brothers Yousef, has been the primary provider for the family of 11. Maryam, being the second youngest of nine, had grown accustomed to this family dynamic. Her father suffered from long-term effects from a car accident he was in several years prior and was unable to work.
However, life changed drastically for the family in early summer 2020. Maryam’s father, already suffering from his disability, died of pancreatic cancer. For months, Maryam and her family mourned their loss. Come Christmas last year, Maryam continued to reflect her mourning during the usually joyful time.
Back in September, Maryam’s mother revealed the family’s struggle. “We have spent more than six months in suffering,” she said. “My husband had cancer in the pancreas, then he recovered, then the cancer spread in all his body and he died. I also suffer from my pains in my neck. My oldest son was affording our family. He works as a construction worker. But the building operations are stopped, now he has no work opportunities. (Still) thanks God.”
We have spent more than six months in suffering. My husband had cancer in the pancreas... My oldest son was affording our family. He works as a construction worker. But the building operations are stopped, now he has no work opportunities. (Still) thanks God.”
Yousef is one of many day laborers to lose their jobs as a result of COVID-19. According to ICC’s research, around 80% of the Christian families experienced an abrupt loss of income. Yet, the reported national average was closer to 10% during the same time frame. Christians in particular were disadvantaged throughout the pandemic, at least in part due to their jobs. Day laborers were among the first to lose their jobs, a sector often filled by Christians who are seen as second-class citizens and face socio-economic persecution.
Compounding this issue, Maryam’s mother is now the head of their large household. Many Christian women in these more remote villages are illiterate, making it very difficult for them to find jobs they can pursue. Education for women in particular is not often a priority, though luckily Maryam’s family continues to support her. Her mother told ICC, “Maryam’s educational level is better because of center classes. She reads and writes well now. Before she joined the center she was not able to write well.”
Maryam’s participation in the child sponsorship program is a crucial aspect of breaking the cyclical chains of persecution. The program helps the family by also providing nutritional food packages each month and even offers literacy classes for women like Maryam’s mother.
For interviews please contact Alison Garcia: firstname.lastname@example.org