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Table of Contents          Greetings from the Development Office


Children’s Education Program (CEP)


Adult Education Program 


African Refugee Cooperative 


Resettlement Legal Aid Project (RLAP)


Youth Leadership and Development (Y‐LEAD)


St. Andrew’s Needs Room to Grow 


Financial Statement for Fiscal Year Ending in December 2008


How to Give   



Visit our website at  Visit our official blog at            

Refugees’ names appearing in this document have been altered.    Content written by Kathleen McRae, Sarah Conner.  Edited and assembled by Brendan Rigby.  Supervised by Susannah Cunningham.  Copyright 2009 St. Andrew’s Refugee Services in Cairo.   




Winter 2009


Dear Friends, Family, and Partners,

You will have to excuse us. We could not help ourselves. In the following pages, you will see the evidence of an effusive pride-pride not in our individual selves, but in the collective power of our good works here at St. Andrew's Refugee Services in Cairo. You will find pictures that read like a family album. You will read stories written by volunteers who describe not only the good work they are doing in partnership with refugees, but also the life-changing experiences and friendships that they are creating. This dynamic coupling, where both volunteers and refugees have truly significant experiences working with each other is part of the "magic" of StARS. The idea for this catalog sharing our work here came from an afternoon spent with an American congregation visiting Cairo. I overheard Paul, one of the co-directors of StARS, speak about what a precious joy it is to work for an organization where you never question your impact: you see it every day. His statement reminded me of one of the things that makes me excited and truly fulfilled. Every day, we see what good we can do when people, resources, and those in need are connected. We have extraordinary staff and volunteers and serve thousands of refugees each year. And each year, we rely on the generous donations of friends and partners that believe that we fulfill our mission to better the lives of marginalized refugees in Egypt. We hope that you look through this catalogue and see what we see everyday: something profoundly meaningful that is worthy of giving.

Since 1979, St. Andrew’s Refugee Services (StARS) has offered itself as a meeting ground where volunteers and refugees partner to meet the needs of vulnerable yet capable asylum-seekers in Cairo, Egypt. We pride ourselves on our history of providing a safe space for practical development and learning for a amazingly diverse community of refugees in Cairo and for our rich history of working with volunteers—whether they are university students from North America, law students from Italy, or refugees from the region who have value and time to give towards our programs. StARS now runs five programs, nurtured by a combination of paid and unpaid staff: an income-generating artisan cooperative (ARC), a bold new resettlement legal aid clinic (RLAP), a groundbreaking at-risk youth program (Youth LEAD), and our two continuing flagship programs: the Children’s Education Program (CEP) and the Adult Education Program (AEP). All of our programs are provided without regard to race, religion, ethnic group, gender, or nationality. As we continue to enjoy this holiday season, we are thankful for the friends and donors across the world who support the work we do. We hope the following photos and stories will give you a greater understanding of daily life at St. Andrew’s, especially in this season of giving. Happy Holidays,

Susannah Cunningham

Director of Development


C HILDREN’S EDUCATION PROGRAM Fiona bursts into the director's office beaming with a smile from ear to ear: "UNHCR agreed to resettle Nadia this morning!" To Fiona, the Director of StARS' Children's Education Program (CEP), this is something to smile about.

Some of the students enrolled at St. Andrew’s CEP program have no parents, immediate relatives, or guardians—they are what the United Nations calls unaccompanied minors—kids forced to band together to spend the night wherever they can and work jobs on top of their studies. For these children, school and activities at St. Andrew’s are the closest thing to home. StARS assists these children as best we can; we pay for their uniforms, school transportation, and accreditation fees in addition to providing two hot meals per day..But the reality is that life for these young CEP students is very hard without family and support. To most of us, being with family around the holidays is something to look forward to each year. Most of us would not like to imagine what being alone on these special days would feel like. Last year, all the


Winter 2009

unaccompanied minors had a dinner together at Fiona's on Christmas day. It was not exactly Christmas for everyone at the dinner as our students are from numerous religious backgrounds, but it felt good to be together celebrating in some semblance of a family gathering.

Despite her efforts to create the vestiges of family, Fiona is the first to admit that these young people need more. They are in extreme risk living in Cairo without family or connections. So for this reason, Fiona beams when she hears another one of her unaccompanied students will be resettled to the U.S. She worries for them when they arrive in America, where resettlement case workers will assist and follow them for a few months or until they turn eighteen, but still, there are jobs in America, more jobs than Cairo. And then there is the potential for college for these young people in the States. Still, these unaccompanied young people are but portion of CEP's student body. There are over 180 other students in CEP and a waiting list of over 200. The waiting list for children’s classes has been closed for 18 months, but not because of lack of interest. It's a bittersweet fact that facilities are simply operating beyond capacity. Yet we still hope to make our services available to all the refugee children on our list in the near future, but cannot do this without the renewed,

C HILDREN’S EDUCATION PROGRAM generous support of donors. Like every year and every gift, there is the promise of so much potential.

The courtyard within St. Andrew’s is always alive with the energy of shouting, playful kids. But upon second glance, it is evident that this is not just recess time – these kids have nowhere to go and nothing else to do when they are not in class. As of last year, St. Andrew’s has been fortunate enough to afford full-day education for its oldest students. All older students are now in school from nine to three, which is a great stride for their education. However, this also means that younger siblings are either waiting around for their afternoon class, or waiting after their morning class for their older siblings to finish and accompany them home. In addition to the younger siblings kicking a ball around the yard, there are plenty of children with working parents, waiting for their parents’ arrival with the workday’s end. To engage these younger children in the classroom while their older brothers and sisters are also in class is ideal – they are already on school grounds, so it would be beneficial to make use of their time. CEP hopes to expand its full-day education to the younger students, but unfortunately does not have the capacity in classrooms or teachers at the moment.

A new portable classroom costs approximately $8,000 and could accommodate 25 students. This means just two classrooms could allow a full-time program for younger students and provide an opportunity to advance their education. As much as the laughter and shrieks of kids playing warms the heart, a productive and educational use of time is within our reach.

Wish List $10 - Library book $20 – Textbook $30 - School uniform with a pair of shoes $55 – Official exam fees $100 – 200 children’s hot meals for a day $100 - Transportation to and from classes for minors without parents $300 – Classroom computer $1,800 - Annual fieldtrip to historic Cairo $8,000 - Permanent air-conditioned classroom


ADULT EDUCATION PROGRAM by Kathleen McRae, Development Intern

On any given weekday, the teacher’s lounge at StARS is abuzz with the sounds of voices and laughter. Teachers come and go throughout the day, and they drink tea, grade papers, and hang out on their breaks. To an unknowing observer, it looks like any other teacher’s lounge. However, several of the teachers at StARS were students themselves in the Adult Education Program (AEP) for refugees not all that long ago. Though each refugee has a distinctly unique story, one sentiment is commonly echoed when speaking to the refugees who now teach at StARS. They all wanted an opportunity to give back to StARS and the refugee community. Each was able to benefit from the various classes given through AEP, and each now is sharing their knowledge with


Winter 2009

other refugees in Cairo.

AEP offers classes in English, Business, Accounting, and computers to over 600 students. Classes increase the refugees’ career potential and afford them opportunities to compete in the job market through a variety of avenues. The Administrator of AEP expresses particular excitement when he talks about the computer classes offered at StARS. Classes range from basic computer skills for those who have never used a computer to international certification classes for IT work. All the classes are designed to give the refugees marketable skills and a fighting chance to find a job in difficult markets. Most of the students are male because female students often have too many obligations at home, but the administrator has hopes to draw in more female students. He is especially proud of one young woman who expressed an interest in the computer work she was learning. Noticing her interest, he tried to build her confidence—encouraging her that computer science is for everyone who finds a passion in it. She is now an assistant in one computer class and is teaching a typing class at StARS. The administrator hopes that in the future more women will join her in teaching computer classes. Her story is an example of the success that comes when individuals are empowered by others and given the tools to learn and grow.

Despite these opportunities, part of the harsh reality of life as a refugee in Cairo is that work is not easy to find here. Everyone is familiar with the strain of unemployment, whether personally or through the struggle of a family member or close friend. The refugees who join the workforce at StARS often hope to find jobs around Cairo as well, with varying degrees of success.

Taha is a Sudanese refugee who used to be a language student here and now assists computer classes. In addition, he works for an IT company in Cairo.

Part of AEP’s goal and the beauty of education in any country is that education opens doors, even when they seem to be firmly shut. This sentiment holds true for refugees who have spent time at StARS and returned to their home countries. A former AEP student named Rana became a teacher here, and upon returning to Sudan, has taken a job with an environmental organization in Juba. Several old students who have returned to Sudan recently contacted the head of AEP and told him that they were able to find jobs upon their return because their newly acquired computer and language skills are so rare in Southern Sudan.


Though we wish we could create actual jobs for each refugee who walks into StARS, we simply cannot. Instead we attempt to fill a hole in the education of adult refugees, a hole that was often created by the very rapture of violence and displacement that caused them to flee to Egypt. Through receiving an education, each individual is gaining tools to build a livelihood that will be beneficial throughout their lives.

Wish list $15 — English storybook or grammar book $90 — CD Player $300 — Laptop $1400 — Photocopying class books each term


AFRICAN REFUGEE C OOPERATIVE by Kathleen McRae, Development Intern

In the entry hall at the top of the stairs, visitors are greeted by a large, colorful painting of two women walking. Behind the women are groups of more women, each group painted within a circle. Upon first glance, the circles do not seem like the focal point of the painting. However, other paintings that grace the various walls of the office have similar circles built into the design.

During a recent Christmas bazaar showcasing work from artists at StARS, Samuel, an artist from Sudan, was asked about the recurring circle themes in his paintings. He answered simply that it is the ‘hole of hope’. A refugee who has lived in Cairo for several years, he has painted for many years and studied art back in Sudan. When asked about the hole of hope, he talks about an exhibition in Cairo in 2004 that used art to elicit conversations and emotions about the concept of human dignity. It was during this exhibition that he first painted the hole of hope into his work. Now, the hole of hope is visible in each piece he paints. Samuel’s already beautiful paintings are made even richer by the knowledge that the simple circle that shows up in a detailed sun, a colorful ball, or outline of another image always represents something greater: the power of hope.

Samuel is part of the African Refugee Cooperative (ARC) at StARS, a cooperative of over 30 refugees who create art to sell through a variety of venues in Cairo. Some of the artists, like Samuel, studied art in their home countries before moving to Cairo. Others have learned various skills here that they have put to use to create beautiful scarves, jewelry, mirror frames made of recycled materials, and a variety of other creations. Around the corner of the guild hall of StARS, the ARC has a long, narrow workspace and a shop filled with the various goods. Artists come and go, often working in the outdoor workspace. Ismail, the keeper of the keys and creator of many frames and paintings, can always be


Winter 2009

convinced to open up the shop--even when it is not shop hours. Enchanted visitors could spend hours in the low-ceilinged, jumbled space, digging through the various treasures and creations.

Albino, another artist from Sudan, showcases his work both in the ARC and in a gallery in downtown Cairo. On Saturdays, he takes StARS refugee children to the gallery, exposing them to the power and beauty found through creating and enjoying art. All his pieces are charged with energy and dynamism, as is his home, the walls and ceiling of which are splashed with the vibrant colors of his work. However, one of his most compelling pieces is a well-

worn scarf that he wears many days as the weather grows colder in Cairo. The scarf is an elaborate pattern like many others sold throughout the city, but the real beauty is in the words he has embroidered in white, running all along the bottom: “Make something out of nothing.”

When people ask about the words, he happily takes the scarf off, unfolding it and showing the message. He always laughs as he shows the scarf, saying, “See, it is true.”


Wish list $5 - Paintbrush $10 - Mirror $20 - Canvas $50 – Paint set $100 - Sewing Machine Help us enable refugees to share more hope and create beauty out of nothing through making art.



The Resettlement Legal Aid Project is at the forefront of the battle for refugees’ basic human rights. Working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and national immigration services such as the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), RLAP works to resettle refugees from Egypt to other countries where they can take control of their lives. RLAP also has a Psychosocial department that helps refugees cope with the issues that come from fleeing persecution and living in a foreign country without access to family or jobs.

One Client’s Story by Brendan Rigby, Legal and Development Intern

An Iraqi doctor working in an Iraqi hospital, he had seen more unnecessary death during his residency than many doctors see in their entire careers. Dead bodies peppered his commute to work; sectarian expenditures tossed to the roadside like spent bottles.


Winter 2009

The body of a coworker was among them; a doctor shot dead on his morning commute. If there was one thing Shakir learned during his last few years in Iraq and after his flight to Egypt, it was that “there is nothing that will be with you forever.” A sad truth from a man who seemed only to want happiness.

Shakir, a refugee and RLAP client, arrived at StARS after fleeing to Egypt in an effort to escape the long arm of sectarian violence in Iraq. Upon arriving in Egypt, he learned that his medical residency in Iraq would not be recognized to practice medicine in Egypt. A qualified medical doctor from the top medical school in Iraq—with the unparalleled depth of experience that war brings to the surgical theatre—was met with the sad reality that his expensive application for a


medical license in Egypt was rejected without appeal (and without an official letter explaining the reason).

In Egypt, his medical residency was not only officially unrecognized, but its equivalent was a twelve-month at-cost internship running into the thousands of U.S. dollars. He paid for this, but was still denied a license to practice medicine in Egypt. It seemed every attempt to change his life for the better was met with another disappointment.

But then he discovered StARS and with it a community of refugees who understood his sense of desperation. He has once again taken another leap and chartered a path towards fulfillment through counseling other refugees, while pressing forward with his own petition for resettlement to another country. However, the petition is time-consuming and requires specialized knowledge of the procedures of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), as well as international human rights law.

Expecting refugees to simultaneously fend off the everencroaching penury and listlessness that accompanies such great upheaval, all while acquainting themselves with the intricacies of UNHCR policy and international refugee law, is as unrealistic as it is cruel. Shakir’s story demonstrates the overwhelming string of loss that typifies the struggle of refugees; a seemingly endless avalanche of tragedies. While their status continues to deprive them of basic human dignities— the right of a doctor to work as a doctor, the right of their children to attend schools, it is this precise lack of opportunity that makes them appealing cases for resettlement through the UNHCR. That is where StARS and the Resettlement Legal Aid Project (RLAP) come in; giving this persecuted and impoverished population the tools to build a new future for themselves.

“You can’t be yourself and you can’t just be human,” reflects Shakir on his time as a refugee. But he smiles while recounting the good work he is doing to improve the lives of others through the St. Andrew’s community. Deprived of basic rights and dignities for so long, it is encouraging to see the tired grin of satisfaction creep across his face. Brendan Rigby, Volunteer since June 2009

A Story of Success

Recently, a taxi driver appeared at RLAP’s door and explained that he had driven a man, wife, and son to the airport that morning. He reported that this man had burst into tears and started kissing the ground and thanking God at the terminal. He came and told us because he was so moved, and thought we should know how thankful this man was for RLAP.

Wish list $30 - International Postage for Resettlement Application $30 - Office Voicemail Account $50 - Cubicle or Curtain Partitions $50 - Shredder $100 - Shelves and Cabinets $300 - Computer $500 - Kitchen and Bathroom Renovations


YOUTH LEADERSHIP AND DEVELOPMENT (Y-LEAD) by Sarah Conner, Development Intern

Earlier this fall, the St. Andrew’s office was abuzz with news – youth in three areas of Cairo, who had previously maintained violent rivalries, had agreed to a peace treaty.

of emotions action can be unstable and at risk for collapse under the pressures of vengeful forces and pre-existing conditions in the community, the same conditions that lead to gang-violence in the first place. The staff at Youth LEAD work not to produce a document, but to identify and tackle the underlying

Phones of the Youth LEAD staff were ringing every other second, the excitement of the young men buzzing at the other end. The night before, over 70 young men had met and agreed to peace.

The real story here is that this is not just any other peace agreement. This agreement was generated among the young men themselves after a respectably long period of nonviolence, without the intervention of the staff at Youth LEAD – though it was obviously encouraged and supported.

Within these youth and in other communities prone to gang violence, numerous peace truces have been established. However, such peace truces are often brought about due to initiation from outside, wellintentioned but misguided mediators. What often results is a declaration for peace that looks pretty on paper, but is really just a conglomeration of empty words in the name of peace.

At other times, peace truces surface in direct response to certain acts of violence. While this idea is on the right track, it too is an incomplete solution. The mixing


Winter 2009

conditions that lead young men to choose gangviolence.

The Youth LEAD project operates four centers currently, with plans in the works for three more centers, to provide at-risk youth with an alternative to the streets. The young men can take English classes, receive tutoring, life skill classes, attend demanddriven seminars, take hiphop lessons, seek counseling, use computers, or simply hang out in a safe environment. By offering these young men resources and support, Youth LEAD is working to eliminate the perceived need among youth for gang-violence, and in effect, supplying these young men with the tools and resources to resolve their conflicts and establish their own peace. By fostering a safer environment, the Youth LEAD project encourages these young men to forge peace


themselves. The fact that this peace truce arose after a period of peace suggests development of real progress, rather than impassioned reaction to a recent occurrence. Youth LEAD fosters and encourages peace, but not just in the name of peace – more importantly, in practice. And sure enough, the sentiment of accomplishment has echoed throughout the Youth LEAD centers with celebration, pizza parties, and the creation of an official banner, painted excitedly the night after the young men shook hands in peace.

Wish List $20 - Pair of Sneakers for Sports Activities $100 - Art Class Supplies $100 - Recorder $100 - Paint Renovation $300 - Desktop Computer


S T . ANDREW ’S NEEDS ROOM TO GROW by Kathleen McRae, Development Intern Upon entering Cairo, the evidence of too little space is everywhere. How could it not be, in a city of 20 million people?

Apartments rise higher and higher into the sky, one on top of the other, cars and taxis traverse the streets, carrying a neverending stream of people, and the city never seems to stop living. It is a space filled to the brim with people. Inside the courtyard of St. Andrew’s, it is obvious that space is similarly a problem.

In the Resettlement Legal Aid office, things are similarly cramped. In both a poetic and fitting manner, a graduate of Yale Law sits in the tiny kitchen as she provides legal aid to help the clients who come to our door. The walls are damp in spots where water is coming in, the sounds of people selling their goods and bustling about pierce through the open window near the ceiling, and the accordion door sways slightly in the breeze where it has come unattached from the wall.

Even more compelling than the well-educated staff practically living on top of each other is the space issue for the refugees themselves. Outside the accordion kitchen door of the legal aid office, at least three meetings are being conducted simultaneously within the small set of open rooms. The room is loud with the sounds of many voices and many languages


Winter 2009

coming together, although everyone is trying to keep their voices low.

Naturally, the goal is to use all the people and resources available in order to serve more people at one time. The need is never-ending. Refugees come not just from far reaches of the city, but from other parts of Egypt, to receive legal aid from StARS. To turn them away would be awful, but the alternative has difficulties as well. Often the stories recounted by the refugees are horrific ones of torture and pain, and yet they must be discussed with another group of people mere feet away. Privacy and confidentiality are musts, yet they are fleeting with the amount of people in the room.

Muhammad, the RLAP office manager and go-to operator at StARS, tells me about how he tries to place meetings of refugees from differing countries next to each other, so that at least the difference in languages can provide some barrier of privacy. But still it is hard and unfair to see a woman in tears, while across the room people are drinking tea and laughing.


Though the laughter and tea drinking should not have to end, the dichotomy is a painful one.

The space issue is not confined to the legal aid office. Fiona, the director of the Children’s Education Program (CEP), tells me about not having enough opportunities to teach the children due to lack of space. Only the high school students have a full day of school, due to the lack of classrooms. Downstairs I watch two classes being taught on opposite ends of the Guild Hall auditorium. A temporary partition separates the classes, but the noise of little voices carries across the entire hall. The administrator of the Adult Education Program (AEP) and I meet in the Pastor’s Office in order to gain a quiet moment, demonstrating the difficulty of space even in trying to find a spot to talk for five minutes. Previously he served as the Computer Department head; he talks of his old hopes to expand the computer department, before he realized that there simply was not room for it.

Youth Leadership, Education, and Access to Development (LEAD) provides services to at- risk refugee youth from its four community centers. But its StARS administrative office measures 2 x 4 yards. In its admin meetings, the six “dream team” field staff sit in the corners between a desk, file cabinet and book shelves, before they go back to work in four different refugee neighborhoods. Even the Executive Directors’ office is home to three desks: one for the accountant, one for the Development officer, one for the two co-directors. Each time the Directors need to discuss something confidential, at least two persons have to leave the room. Space is certainly an issue at St. Andrew’s: that is not in question. And yet, unlike the hurried, sometimes even

hostile atmosphere that Cairo offers in its lack of space, St. Andrew’s lives within its lack of space well. The conversations, though often difficult, are no less filled with care because they are close together. The staff’s awareness of the issue has not bred resentment or grumbling. All quickly acknowledge the problem, but all work graciously within the limitations.

As AEP’s Ibrahim told me, StARS may have limitations because of space, but that does not change the fact that it is a peaceful place, a wonderful place, and a home. Help us expand our services and welcome more people

into the St. Andrew’s home.

Wish List $100 - Projector $200 - File Cabinets $250 - Network Printer $500 - Jungle Gym $500 - Balcony/Loft $1,000 - Kitchen Refurbishment $2,400 - Internet Equipment $8,000 - Portable Classroom


F INANCIAL S TATEMENT FOR F ISCAL YEAR ENDING IN D ECEMBER 2008 All amounts are in Egyptian Pounds unless otherwise specified.




Evangelical Lutheran Church in America(ELCA) International Churches BibleLands UNHCR Church of Scotland United Methodist Committee on Relief Other Donations Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Subtotal

517,816 25,779 130,189 50,000 107,653 12,821 58,587 11,600 914,445

Income from St. Andrew's Programs Registration fees and other income

65,837 42,759

Total funds generated in 2008


Adult English Program Children's English Program African Arts and Crafts Fine Arts Program R-Legal Aid Program YVPI Program Renovations Humanitarian Assistance Management

Total Expenditures for 2008 Net Gain


Winter 2009




USD186,419 USD3,993

179,270 321,159 44,617 12,410 19,427 49,271 71,894 95,200 252,188

1,045,436 -22395

HOW TO GIVE Because St. Andrew’s Refugee Services is so busy with our work here in Cairo, we do not maintain offices abroad and therefore are not an incorporated nonprofit under the tax laws of the United States or the United Kingdom. Therefore, if you would like to make your gift tax-deductible, you must do so through one of our partner organizations. If you would like to donate a tax-deductible amount from the USA please make your check out to:

Global Mission with a memo designating the gift as a Global Gifts donation to St. Andrew’s Refugee Services. Then mail your check to: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Global Mission 8765 W. Higgins Road Chicago, IL 60631

If you would like to donate a tax-deductible amount from the UK, please make your check out to: BibleLands, with a memo designating the gift for St. Andrew’s Refugee Services, and mail your check to: BibleLands PO Box 50 HIGH WYCOMBE Buckinghamshire HP15 7QU


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© 2009 St. Andrew’s Refugee Services in Cairo

St. Andrew's Giving Guide Winter 2009  
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