There are currently more than 7 thousand Sudanese
refugees in Cairo, Egypt. In an attempt to escape the
horrific civil war that has ravaged Sudan for more than
30 years, many Sudanese travel overland to cross into
Egypt, and make their way to Cairo in an attempt to try to gain
assistance from the United Nations there.
Although Egypt kindly opens it's borders for the Sudanese to enter, it is unable to provide financial assistance to the refugees due to it's own rapidly
growing population. Once in Cairo, it takes years for the United Nations to investigate and process each refugees' claim for refugee status.
During this time they therefore have no access to support for housing, education, or health care.
They arrive into the capital city with what little they can carry and are forced to live
well below the poverty line.
The majority of Sudanese refugees in Cairo live 7 or 8 to a tiny room with no air-conditioning (temperatures reach 40 C in summer),
or heating in the winter. Male Sudanese refugees find it very difficult to gain employment in a city with an already extremely
high unemployment rate. Therefore, the women are forced to work as low paid maids, nannies and cleaners for rich ex-patriates or wealthy
Egyptians. Due to this situation, refugee children are regularly left locked and unsupervised in cramped rooms so that their parents or
older siblings can work low paid jobs in order to be able to simply feed and clothe them.
This above situation is particularly endemic in an area of Cairo called Ain Shams. You will not find Ain Shams in any of the
travel guides or tourist recommendations for Egypt. It is a friendly working class area of the capital: highly populated, narrow
streets; mobile street sellers shouting their wares; neighbors who know everyone in the local community. It's also an area rife with
rubbish, pollution, high unemployment, and low standards of living. It is in this area of the city that many Sudanese refugees
have been forced to try to settle. Rent is low in comparison to other areas and there is already a somewhat established Sudanese
It is estimated that approx 3,000 Sudanese refugees currently live in the Ain Shams area of Cairo. Of this number approx 1,500
are children of school age. Until recently many of these children had
NO access to ANY form of education. They were routinely left
unsupervised and locked inside their family "home".
In 2005 the "Sudanese Community Development Project" (SCDP) was established by the Sudanese community in Ain Shams. With help from
(a charitable organization operated in collaboration with All
Saints Cathedral in Zamalek, Cairo), the SCDP
has opened a Education Centre in the Ain Shams area of Cairo. Initially, 395+ children were registered at the "SCDP Education Centre". The 18 Sudanese teachers and 4 general staff at the Education Centre work long hours and sometimes go unpaid due to lack of funding, despite having children of their own to support. Although, over the last year, the Education Centre has managed to provide 2nd hand desks and chairs for most students, the facilities are still very basic. There are no fans or air-conditioners, very little educational stimulus or writing materials, and many pupils crammed into tiny classrooms.
Despite the poor conditions at the Centre, enrollments increase daily. However, the SCDP Education Centre desperately needs funding. Yearly registration fees of 200 LE (approx 21 GBPs) per pupil, in addition to some funding from private and charitable sponsors, have allowed the Centre to remain in operation so far. However, in 2011 the Centre still struggles on a regular basis to cover the monthly necessities of rent and teacher salaries. Without funding for the above, the Centre would be forced to close.
Unless you can help:
By sponsoring a child with as little as 10 GBPs / 18 US$ a month, you can give a refugee Sudanese child in Cairo the dignity,
independence and hope for their future that only education can provide. By helping the children of today to become independent from
charity and learn to help themselves, we can assist all the future children of tomorrow.
Please read on for more details...