In 2017, Maysoun Abdelsalam and her husband Moataz Ibrahim started a charity to support fellow migrants in Egypt’s capital. The charity’s main focus was to teach children and vocational skills for adults. But after the economic pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic that put many out of work, the couple’s charity has resulted in providing fellow migrants with food.
Effect of the pandemic on Migrants and Refugees
Abdelsalam told reporters that when the pandemic hit, she and her husband felt fellow refugees could manage to support each other through the tough time. Over the past few months, the fellow migrants have proved that they can work together. When they meet at the charity’s location, one person sometimes brings rice while another brings pasta. Everyone plays a part and provides what they can.
Abdesalam and Moataz worked as journalists and lawyers in Sudan before leaving because of political pressures. The couple decided to travel to Egypt with their three children in 2017, hoping to find some security and stability. When the couple arrived in Egypt, Abdelsalam, 36, and Ibrahim, 44, found a niche teaching the children of fellow Sudanese migrants. The start of the new venture provided a cornerstone of the Future Generation Center for Education Charity. The two did not take too long to launch the charity after they arrived in Egypt.
The pandemic has had great economic effects in some countries across Africa. But the economic downturn caused by the pandemic hasn’t been as severe in Egypt as in some other countries. However, many migrants and refugees have lost their jobs in Egypt even with the minimal pandemic effects. Many of those previously employed lost their jobs and can’t find any help from anyone. The charity seems to be the only institution providing any assistance to the refugees and migrants with nowhere to turn to.
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Last year the International Organization for Migration (IOM), a United Nations migration agency, carried out research to discover migrants’ needs due to the pandemic. The research results revealed that a fifth of an estimated 6.3 million foreigners in Egypt required assistance. According to the U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, more than 300,000 were registered refugees, and asylum seekers.
Future Generation Center for Education Charity is based in Giza across the Nile from central Cairo. For a few days a week, the charity center prepares meals with meat and vegetables. Food prepared is distributed to up to 400 families from Eritrea, Sudan, Yemen, Ethiopia, and some Egyptian families. The center only has 15 staff members who help with the distribution and collection of any food donations. Over the past ten months, the Future Generation Center for Education Charity has served 14,000 meals to those in need.
To keep up with the good work, the charity seeks to acquire even more donations. Currently, the Charity depends on charitable donations and local Egyptian NGOs. One such NGO known as Mastoora, founded by Shurooq Mustafa, has greatly assisted the charity stay afloat over the months. Abdesalam urges those who would like to offer assistance to come out in large numbers. She says the refugees are just people looking for better circumstances in the pandemic. Offering these people a refuge so that they feel they aren’t alone doesn’t take much effort.