Europe, Middle East & North Africa

“Someday when our children graduate as doctors and teachers, they can return…and help our country develop.”

Photo: Paul Jeffrey

Searching for Home

Martha Lual and her husband Ochan Jok came to Cairo in 2004 from Malakal, a city in what is today South Sudan. Although the decades of civil war that ultimately split Sudan were beginning to wind down, they wanted to live in peace where their children could study. So they fled to Egypt, settling into a small fifth floor apartment in a crowded Cairo neighborhood. It has not been an easy place to live and Egyptians sometimes are less than welcoming. Jok, whose black skin and ritual facial scars make him easily distinguishable from most Egyptians, occasionally is called “monkey” or “donkey” when he walks down the street. Lual says she sometimes gets called a prostitute simply because of her race.

Despite such treatment, they are not ready to go back home. They regularly keep in touch by phone with relatives in South Sudan, which in recent weeks has been torn by savage political violence. They have not given up on their homeland, however. “Someday when our children graduate as doctors and teachers, they can return to South Sudan and help our country develop,” said Lual.

On the way to that educational goal, five of their children go to a school for refugee children based at the CWS-supported St. Andrew’s United Church of Cairo. It provides quality education in English and Arabic, the languages of their home and adopted countries. Jok also studies there in the evenings; he is currently in the equivalent of 8th grade.

The school is just one of many services that St. Andrew’s offers to refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable migrants. It also offers legal assistance with resettlement, psychosocial help for refugees adjusting to their new life and skills training for adult refugees struggling to survive economically. In addition, St. Andrew’s provides a safe place for displaced people from many lands to come together as a community.