Feature: Education center teaches refugees in Egypt knowledge, handicrafts to improve living conditions

2021-02-07 13:35:33 GMT2021-02-07 21:35:33(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

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by Marwa Yahya

CAIRO, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- On the top floor of a three-storey educational building for refugees in Egypt gathered a group of African women of different nationalities, where they drank Sudanese coffee and ate Eritrean and Somalian deserts, with fragrant incense and traditional music.

The building serves as the Future Generation Center for Education (FGCE) which was established by a Sudanese refugee family in 2017 to support their peers in Gaza Province's Barageel, a rural district that suffers from poor infrastructure and services.

"The center provides educational services and psychological support for the children of refugees and asylum seekers," said Maysoun Abdel-Salam, a 36-year-old Sudanese refugee who established the center with her husband.

The FGCE, founded and maintained through individual efforts and logistic aid of some of the UN Refugee Agency's partner organizations in Egypt, has been working on educating refugees from Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia, and other African countries for the past three years.

"I chose Egypt in 2016 because the living conditions here were affordable ... But I didn't imagine I would stay for four years," Abdel-Salam said.

"Since the duration of my stay became unknown, I had to find a job with a fixed income to secure my renting and living fees," she said, noting this center began as a nursery.

"Barageel is full of migrants and lacks many essential services, especially education, so turning the nursery into an educational center was very suitable," the Sudanese refugee told Xinhua.

On the first floor of the building, Asmaa Aly, a 38-year-old Sudanese teacher, was teaching 11 students the COVID-19 distancing measures by drawing and painting.

"I also teach them how to make a face mask or shield, and give them much information about the virus life and the protection measures, such as not shaking hands or hugging," Aly said, while roaming the small class to check the students' work.

The center, which compromises 250 registered students aged from three to 17, teaches all subjects ranging from kindergarten to high school with accredited books provided by the Sudanese Embassy, according to the teacher.

In the summer holiday, the center promotes activities of drawing, brushing, cooking, reading and others to help the students improve educational and cultural skills, Aly noted.

At least 20 full-time teachers as well as other volunteers are working in the center that offers each student 150 U.S. dollars annually for their learning, while the rest of the expenses are paid by parents, she said.

"I joined the class four months ago, and I learn science, maths as well as art," said Riyad Gafer, a 13-year-old Somalian student.

"The teachers helped me overcome my fears about reporting child harassment and bullying and taught me means of defending myself," he added.

The FGCE also teaches the female adult refugees how to make bed sheets and leather bags as well as sessions for psychological therapy, with the logistic support of some non-governmental organizations.

"I was trained for a month to cut the sheets for large and small beds and then festoon them with strings," said Aliya Abdel Rahman, a woman in her 50s from Eritrea.

In 2019, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi said Egypt hosts 6 million refugees. Enditem