Summer School Project 2012 for Sudanese Refugees, Asylum-seeking and Displaced Students in Cairo, Egypt
Project location: EGYPT, Cairo
Project start date: April 2012 - Project end date: July 2002
Project number: 2012-003
Beneficiary: Sacred Heart Church
The project's aim is to organize summer camps for 350 Sudanese refugee children in Egypt. For the thirteenth year, the summer school has become an annual event, carried out during summer time as the name suggests. It all began when an educational committee met and decided to offer to a large number of refugees and displaced children found in Cairo, because of ethnic, cultural and religious differences, a recreational and educational moment of four weeks. This project has received a grant from the Nando Peretti Foundation.
The beneficiaries of the project will be 350 African (mainly) Sudanese refugee children from different tribal, cultural and religious backgrounds, aged between 5 -16 years old, with an equal gender ratio of male and female students. A teacher-training workshop will also be given for teachers from all four schools. Classes will be held 4 days per week from Monday to Thursday, 8am till 1pm. The curriculum will include English Language, drama, music, dance, sports, videos, and games that will incorporate African cultural themes. The project will utilize staff, equipment, and resources from all four schools
This initiative intends to provide a community-based quality project, which will help improve the English language skills of the children and contribute to their personal growth and healthy development. The schools involved are
• The St. Lwanga Center for Basic Education (Sacred Heart Church run by Comboni Missionaries) follows the Sudanese national educational curriculum, which is taught in Arabic; it has 900 students, and opens five days per week. St. Lwanga also has a satellite school
• St Joseph's Center, for Basic Education located in the district of Maddi that serves 150 students. St Joseph's follows the same educational curriculum as St. Lwanga.
• St. Bakhita Center, for Basic Education located in the district of Kilo Arba Wi Nus that serves 350 students. St Bakhita's follows the same educational curriculum as St. Lwanga.
The Sacred Heart Church is a Roman Catholic Church belonging to the Latin Vicariate of Egypt. It has been serving the Sudanese refugee and displaced community in Cairo since 1984. Presently, four Comboni priests minister it with the support from the Comboni and Canossian Sisters. The church is located near the city centre in the district of Abbassya. Regular worship services in Arabic, English and French, and Christian educational programs for all age groups are available for the Christians of the refugee community to attend. Additionally, the church implements relief, health, educational, income generation, and social and cultural activities that can be accessed by the wider refugee community from all confessions.
A church council, comprising of the Parish Priest and eight Sudanese congregational members meets once a week to coordinate the work of the communities.
The aims of the Sacred Heart Church are to:
• Create a welcoming environment for the Sudanese community.
• Encourage the spiritual growth of its members.
• Help preserve Sudanese cultural heritage.
• Provide emergency assistance to the most vulnerable members of the community.
• Provide educational and skills training to the community so that upon resettlement or repatriation their opportunities for successful integration will be enhanced.
• Empower the community through training, decision making, and community participation in all church activities.
Current Activities of the Sacred Heart Church
Basic Primary Education. Sacred Heart Church has established two primary and one secondary school in Cairo. Some 1,300 refugee and displaced Sudanese children from different tribal, religious and cultural backgrounds benefit from these educational centers. These centers are run exclusively by members of the Sudanese community.
An Intercultural Educational Program aims to face the needs of a multicultural and multiethnic society in which conflicts and defensive attitudes are generated from prejudices and lack of knowledge of other's culture and traditions.
A Medical Clinic, run by a Sudanese doctor, is opened during school hours and provides basic first aid and essential drugs for the school children and teachers.
The Assistance to the Needy Project provides financial assistance for food rent and medical emergencies to approximately 20 Sudanese families each week. The committee overseeing this project is made up a Comboni priest and 7 Sudanese parish representatives from different tribes.
The Bakhita Group, an association of Sudanese women, follows a program of Christian formation and implements small income generating projects.
Sport Activities. Members of the Sudanese community run a number of sporting events for the youth at the Sacred Heart Church site and at local nearby Catholic schools.
Social and Cultural Events. A social club is opened every day in the afternoon to allow the community to meet and socialize together. The parish hosts courses in Southern Sudanese languages. Throughout the year, the church holds a number of social, religious and cultural events, whereby the community can express and preserve its cultural heritage through visual and performing arts.
The Summer School Project. For the last eight years the education programs of the Sacred Heart Church have been implementing a six-week educational and recreational summer school for hundreds of Sudanese children at the Sacred Heart Church site. This helps the kids to improve their social, artistic and communication skills.
The St. Bakhita Center. Started in 2000 this center provides basic literacy, adult education and computer training to some 250 refugee and asylum seeking youth from the African community living in Cairo per term
St Lwanga Center for Basic Education
The St. Lwanga Centre for Basic Education, a school for Sudanese refugee and displaced children has been operating at the Sacred Heart Church since 1990. 990 children enrolled in the school last year. The school employed 30 Sudanese teachers, 5 workers and a doctor. Since the beginning, the Sacred Heart adopted the Egyptian national curriculum which is taught in Arabic. However, for the academic year 2008-2009 we switched to the Sudanese Curriculum due to the legal and administrative difficulties we found in registering our pupils and students for national exams in Egypt.
Our main aim is to contribute to the improvement of the educational levels and to encourage the personal growth and healthy development of its students. In order to meet the continuing influx and needs of the refugee community, Sacred Heart Church has established several new educational centres in Cairo over the past few years; St. Joseph's Centre for Basic Education opened in 2001 in the district of Maadi. It served 150 students and employed 18 refugee teachers and three workers; the Canossian Educational and Social Centre opened in 2004 in the district of Zeiton, which provided education to 150 children at the kindergarten and employed 4 refugee teachers and St. Bakhita Schools established in 2001 near Nasr City. For the academic year 2011-12 there are 350 students enrolled in this school. There are 18 Sudanese teachers.
The Sudanese Refugee Community in Arbaa Wi Nus
The Sacred Heart Church opened a satellite school in November of 2000 in the district of Kilo Arbaa Wy Nus to provide basic education to the younger children of the district.
Around the school a Christian Community developed with several activities:
• Church and cultural activities: Religious instruction, community prayers, youth activities
• Kindergarten and Primary School
• Adult Education for women and youth out of the school age
• Empower the community through training, decision making, and community participation in all church activities.
• Literacy and English Languages classes
• Basic Clinic for the school Children
• Women's Centre for training and income generating activities
The goal is to provide a quality project that will improve the English language skills and contribute to the personal growth and healthy development of refugee children living in Cairo. The objective will be achieved through the following activities:
• The implementation of English language classes.
• Exploration of African Cultural heritage through visual and performing arts. African cultural themes are encourages in all activities to help the children explore and retain their culture and identity.
• Distribution of daily breakfasts, which increases the children's capacity to concentrate and assimilate information and thus contribute to their general educational levels.
• Environmental and Sports activities
African refugee and displaced children presently living in Cairo have limited access to Egyptian education facilities due to their illegal status and economic deprivation. Many of the children come from one-parent families, in which a mother, or occasionally the father, has sole responsibility in providing for the children. These parents cannot afford to take time away from employment or income generating activities during the long summer school break to take care of their children, nor do they have the financial means or extended family support to provide adequate childcare.
Furthermore, the regular educational programmes due to limited time, space, and resources offer very little opportunity for artistic and recreational activities. The increasing rate of resettlement of refugees from Cairo to English speaking countries highlights the necessity for the acquisition of additional language skills. All these factors indicate the need for a summer school project that focuses on English language, as well as recreational activities essential for healthy child development. Evaluations of the previous Summer School Projects revealed the summer school successfully achieved its objectives, that it was a positive learning experience for both students and teachers.
Anticipated achievements or outcomes of the Project
It is expected that the project will produce the following results:
• Improved English Language skills for the children.
• Enhanced creativity and artistic skills of the children achieved through music, dance, drama and art.
• Help preserve African cultural heritage.
• Professional development of refugee teachers and volunteers through the acquisition of new knowledge and skills, and leadership opportunities.
• Strengthened relationships and communication between the different implementing church programs and their staff.
• Improved management and organization skills, for both the summer school committee and staff, transferable to the regular school programs.
• Economic profit for local business through the purchase of materials and services.
• Provide income for refugee families through compensated teaching opportunities.
• The daily distribution of breakfast increased the children's capacity to concentrate and assimilate information by relieving short-term hunger.
• The personal growth and healthy development of the children through the participation in a diverse educational project.
• Improved self-esteem and self-reliance due to the acquisition of new skills and participation in a structured community project (children, teachers, volunteers and organizers).
• Building of local and international relationships through the presence of volunteers and visiting guests.