One Becomes a Thousand
The impact of your generosity is multiplying, from life to life to life across Egypt.
So what kind of return on investment do you reap when you build into the lives of Egyptian child laborers? I was just in Cairo and saw the results myself.
The local visionary that offers education to brick factory workers invited me to their annual party to celebrate the end of the month of ritual fasting. I squeezed into a van packed with several local young volunteers helping to host the festivities.
I braced myself for the long, hot drive, straining to understand colloquial Egyptian Arabic slang. But that was when I got my first surprise of the day.
“So how are you?” one young man turned and asked me in perfect English. I had to shake my head to make sure I wasn’t imagining things. “Uh, fine,” I stammered.
During the sweaty drive, we got to know each other. He explained that he and the others in the bus all live and work in the largest garbage collection area in Cairo. Years ago, this local visionary had been their teacher at a special school for garbage city working kids. She had cajoled, threatened, and enticed them to learn to read and write. They affectionately call her, “Mama”. Now young adults, her former students did not hesitate to give up a holiday to help their former teacher.
We arrived at the surreal apocalyptic smothering brown landscape. We made our way through a dusty alleyway to an astro-turf playing field. The team from the garbage city went to work with current teachers from the visionary’s school. Word quickly spread, and kids materialized from their dusty surroundings.
The contrast within moments of our arrival was stunning. Uproarious laughter. Brilliant colors. Joyful shouts. More peals of laughter.
Two things stood out. One, the guys from the garbage city, all former students of the dreamer, were engaged heart and soul enjoying the youngsters around them. They hugged them and teased them with abandon.
And, two, the “coolest” older kids from the area were just as eager as the little ones to sit in line to receive their party favors: a juice pack, a cookie, and a toy.
I was astonished. No pushing. No shoving. But I took note of all those personal touches with each child. A special handshake. A tousling of hair. A playful punch. These kids were waiting in line for one-on-one personal recognition – not juice or snacks. They reveled in this “I count to someone” experience.
The debrief after this second annual party was revealing. Most of the children participating were the visionary school attendees, but about twenty more were local children who spontaneously showed up. And even more significantly, a dozen girls joined in the festivities. Their very conservative families had entrusted them to the visionary’s school team, and allowed them out of their homes on their own. Wow!
And those leading the activities? Seven were the visionary’s former students from the garbage city. Two are students in their 20’s who are still benefiting from the visionary’s school. And two are lawyers who grew up in and live in the area, and who extend their workday into the night as brick kid schoolteachers.
So what has your investment achieved? You make it possible for Dreams InDeed to strengthen this visionary’s hand with mature local leadership. Because of your investment, her vision is now clear, her mission and values are defined, her strategy is on target, and her financial stewardship is sound.
But most importantly, kids lives are being changed, one after the other. Kids, who work in brick factories, thank you. Young adults, who are now teachers, thank you. And other young adult volunteers, who want to imitate their teacher’s commitment to the weakest, thank you.
Years ago, local leaders took this dreamer under their wing as a young girl in a male-dominated setting to affirm her as valuable and worthy of an education. She has returned to do the same with her own students. And I’ve watched those grown up students now passing on the impact by affirming and loving other little ones.
It is possible for the smallest one will become a thousand.