As night falls on the streets of Cairo and Alexandria, as the cities fall asleep and most people return home, figures invisible in the daylight begin to come to life.
The homeless, often single women, or families who have spent the day begging or offering cars a rag for a pound or two, now find themselves huddled together with their stomachs hollowed out and subject to all the insecurity that the night represents in the big cities: drugs, muggings, disease…
The garbage collectors who, taking advantage of the relative coolness of the night, begin their heavy work of collecting waste. Recognisable by their orange tunics, like those of prisoners, they wander around in groups of three or four collecting waste, sweeping the sand from the streets, which will still be there the next morning, piling their finds into vans that they will take back to the slum to sell them at the best price and feed their families.
Once a week, volunteers of SOS Chrétiens d’Orient prepare and distribute hundreds of hot meals for those forgotten by the night.
The bags, containing a hot dish, soup, some raw vegetables and bread, are loaded into several vehicles and then each group goes around the neighbourhoods to distribute them to those in great need.
The distribution never lasts very long, there is no shortage of poor people in the streets. Naked, mutilated, frighteningly thin people lie on the ground for all to see, without anything being done for them. The language barrier pushes the volunteers to express themselves in other ways, a hand on the heart, gratitude, a smile, a look of friendship and support, sometimes a prayer that tells them to go in peace, then they get back in the car and the tour continues.
Back at the flat, each person will keep in mind the few faces they met, which they will confide in a last prayer before going to sleep for the next day, which will also be busy.
In Egypt, poverty is ageless. On the roadside, volunteers regularly distribute hot meals to single mothers with young children. By making a donation, you support these families decimated by poverty and guarantee them a full stomach in the lifeless streets of Cairo and Alexandria.
I had a dream and in the blink of an eye, SOS Chrétiens d’Orient helped me to realise it. They helped me to draw a smile on the faces of the homeless.
I found in the volunteers, love, kindness, humility, young people who have left their whole life to come abroad to help people they don’t know. They have the love of Jesus in their hearts.