Remember, in 2015, Daech coldly murdered 21 Coptic Christians. The video went around the world: dressed in orangejumpsuits, the 21 martyrs calmly await death. In a few minutes, they will be reunited with their Creator. On the face of one of them, one can see an ounce of smile.
Today, their memory lives on in a small town south of Cairo, Minya. A shrine has been built in their honor. 4000 square meter of holy places house their graves. Icons are painted depicting them in their orange jumpsuits, their heads turned towards the sky and the Lord welcoming them with open arms. In the building you can see the clothes in which the martyrs were murdered. On some of them, religious signs appeared after their death: a cross, the face of Christ, so many signs demonstrating their holiness.
Volunteers go to the shrine for a special donation. Leaving very early that morning, they go to meet the families of these holy martyrs for a donation of food packs and school supplies. It is a 4-hour drive to the province of Al-Minya, south of Cairo. As the kilometers go by, the desert landscape gives way to more rural roads: along the Nile, the very poor Egyptian countryside. In the middle of a cloud of dust, the church of the 21 Coptic martyrs of Minya stands majestically. From the entrance, an imposing statue of the Holy Martyrs reminds everyone that hatred of the Faith still kills today.
Volunteers are eagerly welcomed. The families are there: the wives and children of these men who died for their faith. The exchanges are rich. Each woman here bears the heavy title of "Martyr's Wife" and does not hesitate to introduce herself in this way: "Maryam Youssef, the wife of the martyr Sameh Salah". Their words are comforting: "When weakness seizes us, when we become weak or tired, we feel God entering our hearts. Martyrs console in a dream or a message from someone."
The donation is about to start: the bags are unloaded from the van and brought to the hall ... In a joyful hubbub, the volunteers distribute the packs. Each mother receives her bag of food containing basic necessities: sugar, pasta, rice, meat, tea, fish ... The children inspect the contents with interest. This emergency aid is a real necessity for these families with very low incomes. Once the food packs have been donated, it is the children's turn to be provided with school supplies. They are ecstatic about their new school supplies: notebook, schoolbag, pencils... The designs of the schoolbags have even been chosen according to each child's needs: sports bag for the boys, colorful ones for the girls... Each child explains to us what he wants to do later on. Many of them want to become a doctor or an accountant. One of the boys, with a promising brushstroke, dreams of dedicating himself to icon painting. He proudly presents his drawings to the volunteers. Everything is done amidst smiles and laughter. The families thank the volunteers again and again before leaving, filled with joy and with their hands full of what they have received.
What we will remember from this donation are the eyes shining with joy, the smiles and the words of these families, whose Faith and Hope radiate. This church is their home: "We take comfort in coming here. It is not only a church, it is above all our home. Our true home. Here we feel really close to our husbands and wives." Their husbands, their fathers, always live for them and watch over their needs from heaven.
In the East, the culture of the saints, of miracles, is much more present than in the West, where everything must be rationalized, explained, dissected. In Egypt, every Christian is the perfect illustration of the Beatitude: "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believe.”
In spite of hardship, poverty and deprivation, thanks to the donors of SOS Chrétiens d'Orient, we are able to provide regular aid to these families full of Hope and Faith.
In this time of crisis, support our actions in favor of these Egyptian families.
Inès, volunteer in Egypt