Egypt is a land of contrasts. Although it was among the first countries to have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989, Egypt is faced with a growing demography and major challenges in protecting children. First among those left out: Disabled children. There are 3 million of them in a country in which disabilities are taboo. Interview with Bamine Mokbel, Customer Relations Manager for Air Liquide Egypt in Cairo and sponsor of the ASMAE project in Egypt.
How does this project work?
ASMAE—Association Sœur Emmanuelle—is an International NGO that has specialized in educating and protecting the most impoverished children for nearly 40 years. In Egypt, it works with disabled children. Specifically, it works in partnership with existing local associations by providing customized long-term support. For the project in Cairo, the Egyptian association Basmat Amal was selected in 2010: the two structures work together to integrate these children into society, which is to say, above all, to send them to school and take care of them.
What concrete aid is provided to the children?
Assisted by ASMAE, Basmat Amal trains teachers and parents in talking with disabled children. The association also helps schools to purchase essential equipment used to accommodate the children. Thus, the Air Liquide Foundation financed the purchase of educational equipment for two public schools: special chairs and tables, closets, pencils, books, toys, etc.
What is involved in your role as sponsor?
I have assisted this project for one year. Being the sponsor requires working hand in hand with the project initiator. I assess the situation and adapt the project to priorities. Then, I monitor the project to ensure proper implementation of the aid. I can confirm that all the members of the association are well trained in various disabilities and are very attentive to the children. I am very proud of the professionalism of this little structure!
Why is this project so important to you?
I studied psychology, and I was looking for an area in which to apply this knowledge while doing something useful for society. Basmat Amal has made impressive progress. It was created in 2000 by 12 Egyptian families who wanted to prepare their children for the future. Until very recently, disabled children did not even have access to public school. Since then, Basmat Amal reached an agreement with the Egyptian Ministry of Education, which finally approved the admission of up to 4 children per class. This is a real success for our country; the authorities are beginning to change their attitude.