In recent years, understanding and initiatives for disabled people have grown considerably in Egypt. However, only one to two per cent of all disabled people living in Egypt are aided by charitable organisations. For those who are able to live independently there are special establishments (for certain blind, deaf and dumb individuals or those with minor mental handicaps). For multiple or very severely disabled people, however, there are no facilities. Hardly anybody knows about the benefits of early stimulation. Some people with disabilities living in the cities of Cairo and Alexandria do get early treatment. Those in the south of Egypt, however, depend on the help of their relatives, who generally understand very little about the handicapped or their needs.
For example, three-year-old Asma still cannot sit or speak. Her parents have attempted many things, have consulted different doctors and tried medicines, and have even used a sort of physiotherapy, but nothing has helped much. Sadly, there is also no specialist in the Christian hospital where they are seeking help. However, a foreign lady with a disabled child herself was able to give them counsel. Asma’s mother absorbed the information about the illness and possible stimulations. With proper treatment, Asma may be able to develop further and will still be able to learn many things.
Hidden truth in Egypt
In Egyptian society, severely disabled people are often literally hidden at home. Willingness to be identified with the disabled hardly features in the minds of their relatives for fear of “shame”. Also, it is as though such a child may diminish his or her siblings’ chances for marriage.
“Islam” means “submission to God’s will”. Muslims do not usually ask probing questions such as, “Why does God allow the disabled to suffer?” God’s justice in the face of suffering is not questioned. In the Bible, God is one who suffers with His creation, yet He is Lord over every need and has overcome the suffering by His cross and His resurrection. In Islam, on the other hand, the main focus of how God is seen is not on God’s love, but on God’s almighty power. Suffering Muslim parents often do not find much tangible comfort and encouragement in their faith.
* Pray for the family of Asma, and for other families in similar situations.
* Pray that the specialised Christian doctors and staff needed to work with disabled children will hear the call of God and respond.
* Pray for the existing Christian initiatives in working with disabled people (in Beni Suef, Asiut, and Assuan (Aswan)).
* Pray that churches may develop more interest in this matter. Pray for disabled Muslims whom you may know about personally.