Egyptian protesters shout slogans against President Mohammed Morsi, during a rally against his decree, in Tahrir square, Cairo, Nov. 27. (Khaled Elfiqi / EPA)
The election of Mohammed Morsi as president gave many Egyptians a sense of optimism and renewed hope. Now, nearly six months later, many are frustrated and impatient as Morsi's promises of change and economic prosperity have yet to be realized.
Twenty-five percent of all Egyptians live at or below the poverty level, earning less than $2 per day. Many of them are widows. An estimated 1.7 million Egyptian children are orphans.
But several are surviving with the help of American and Egyptian Christians, who are taking the book of James's admonition to heart: "Religion that God our father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress." James 1:27.
"The situation of course is getting worse...there's a lot of insecurities, instability that's happening in Egypt and basically it's the weakest and most vulnerable that suffer the most," said Nermien Riad, founder of Coptic Orphans, a Washington-based group that reaches out to Egyptian widows and their children.
Stopping Perpetual Poverty
"Once a father passes away you have nothing. First step, of course, the children are pulled out of school, you can't afford to send them to school," Riad explained. "They become then the child labor. They then become the child brides. They then become those who are abused. They grow to perpetuate this poverty."
Widows and orphans are treated as social outcasts. Unlike Americans, Egyptians have no unemployment or social security.
Thirty-one-year old Naima Wahib's husband George died from stomach cancer four years ago. She and her two children have struggled ever since. They live in a small, one-room apartment near the city of Luxor.
Sana, a Coptic Orphans volunteer, regularly visits Wahib and her children.
"If Christian children here in Upper Egypt are to have a brighter future, they'll need an education," Sana said as she she helped a young boy learning to read. "Eleven-year-old Antonio here could barely read late last year, but after 15 sessions with a volunteer from Coptic Orphans, he now can read Bible stories."
"We started out by just sending money, sending money to the children," Riad said. "Then we realized, 'Wait a minute. To really help them, get them on their feet, we need to focus on education.'"
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: CBN News