Monday, October 21, 2013

Letters from Egypt: Abdo Goes to School



It’s been almost a month since I first wrote about Abdo, our nine-year old office boy that was missing school to work.

My office faced various problems with getting Abdo in school. First, his mother needed his office salary to help supply basic needs for the family. The salary is LE 300 a month (around $42) which includes him running basic errands for the staff, making tea/coffee and helping clean. We collectively decided that we would still pay the salary under the stipulation that he attended school and after, would come and work a couple of hours at the office.

Some whom I verbally told this story began asking why he had never attended school and wondered about his mother. I assume that his mother, being from a village, probably never attended school a day in her own life. She does not understand the importance of an education because she’s probably been working ever since she was able to walk. She was probably also married off very early (the legal age for Egyptian females to get married was pushed up to 16; however, villages abide by their own set of laws sometimes which mean an even younger marital age).

The next problem came with school enrollment. Finding out that the nine-year old had never attended even one day of school led to many schools in the area turning down his admission. Instead, we were told to find a tutor. Finally we found a school that would accept him as a first grader, but another hiccup came shortly thereafter.

Transportation. Since none of the schools within walking distance allowed Abdo, we had to resort to a school that requires transportation. He is too young to take a microbus alone and despite all of my searches, I was unable to find a reliable, affordable driver. It was disheartening considering that while I understand some people not having the contacts to help, I can’t understand explaining this story to a driver and yet he still not want to look past a foreign face to make a deal helping one of this own. We were finally able to pay LE 150 a month (around $21) to one of the school’s microbuses to pick him up each morning and drop him back to the office.

So after a few hiccups, this sweet boy finally started his first day ever of school yesterday (Oct. 20). He has two friends in his class: Karim and Mohammed. His teacher is named Gameela (beautiful in Arabic) and the female attendant on the microbus ensuring the safety of the children is Mona, as told to me by Abdo when I inquired as to how he liked going to school.

I want to thank everyone who did reach out in support. I especially want to give Esther a big thank you for the backpack and clothes. I will go this week to look for a jacket. If any of you have any clothes for little boys (he has long arms), please let me know.

His sizes are:
Shirt: 8 (I would assume a jacket should be one size larger)
Pants and Belt: 30
Shoes and Socks: 35

Again, thank you to everyone who did help, tried to help and those thinking of helping.

3 comments:

  1. LeAnne,

    I told my husband about your challenges and determination to get Abdo into school. He asked me to get your address so we can send a donation to help. My email address is flowoodfolks@gmail.com. Please send that to me so we can help out. Stay safe.
    Geri Richie
    (Sarah Murphy Flynt's mom)

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    Replies
    1. Mrs. Richie,

      Thank you so much for your message, your support is very much appreciated. That being said, please understand that I cannot accept any money especially from abroad. The reason is that some dubious people may see this as a way to earn instant cash with little to no regard for the actual children. It’s more important to have those of us living here take the opportunity to give back to our host country while also trying to teach locals the importance of helping their own.

      I’ve only accepted money once before for care packages that I made for underprivileged people shortly after the 2011 revolution in which I kept an Excel spreadsheet to provide everyone that donated receipts so they knew that I didn’t pocket any of the money (which you should always ask for from so-called charities which usually use 80% of the donations for administration fees – meaning directors’ pockets). Those care packages included seven main staples: oil, rice, pasta, milk, lentils, sugar and tea and they were distributed with the stipulation that the individuals had to work. I kept records of whom I provided these to including my driver, company drivers, manicurist’s female employee and bowabs in the neighborhood of my office.

      Please know that I am so grateful to people like you that make such a selfless offer, but what I would like to ask you to do in return is simply help someone less fortunate in your town.

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    2. LeAnne, I understand and honestly, never thought about the unspoken message that could/would have been read into this deed. Thank you for caring and doing for one of the innocent children (and those others you mentioned regarding the care package). We will do as you suggested.
      Geri Richie

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