EGYPT: Salesian Missionaries Offer Oratory and Parish in Cairo Community
Salesian missionaries in the community of Zaytoun within the city of Cairo, Egypt, offer an oratory and parish. The programs primary serve young Egyptians and South Sudanese who are refugees in the country. Father Dany Kerio, rector of the Salesian community, notes that the oratory playground is a meeting place of culture and people.
“Our programs are frequented by street children, orphans, children of workers, middle-class young people and people of many religious backgrounds,” says Fr. Kerio. “Then there are also the South Sudanese, refugees and displaced persons, the tribes and ethnic groups that are enemies in South Sudan, but here they are at peace with each other. So many prejudices have been dispelled because people find common ground and mutual understanding.”
The Salesian community provides education and social development services for youth and their families living in poverty in the region. Youth are able to access the Salesian program and gain assistance with homework, connect with their peers, and be connected with adults who provide mentorship and support in their lives. The community is also serving many South Sudanese refugees who have escaped violence and conflict in their home country. But many are faced with racial discrimination and challenges in Egypt. Salesian missionaries work to mitigate these difficulties through programs aimed at helping refugees integrate into their new communities.
In addition, Salesian missionaries have been helping Syrian refugees in Egypt as well as Turkey, and Lebanon since early 2012. Between 400 and 800 refugees are helped each day, many of whom are women and children. At these refugee sites, missionaries provide emergency relief by meeting basic needs and providing shelter, safety and medical assistance. Missionaries also offer technical skills training to assist refugees in the task of finding stable employment in their new host countries which for many is particularly challenging due to labor laws and a lack of established social and professional networks.
According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), 26 percent of Egypt’s population lives in poverty, while 49 percent of those living in Upper Egypt cannot provide for their basic needs of food and shelter. Egypt’s unemployment rate has reached 13.2 percent and that number almost doubles for women totaling at 24.2 percent. Egypt, the 15th most densely populated country in the world, has been experiencing a rise in poverty and food insecurity for past three years, according to reports released by the United Nations food agency and its partners.
The country has witnessed significant political and economic changes since 2011. Through this transition, which includes periods of political unrest, the main income sources of the economy have been negatively impacted, particularly in the tourism sector, as well as revenues from the Suez Canal, oil and remittances from Egyptians working abroad, affected by the global economy.
Despite the visible progress to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Egypt has not reached the anticipated targets for poverty reduction, environment protection and gender equity. Egypt is still working on issues related to gender equality and the empowerment of women.
UNDP – Egypt