The UNICEF-Supported Young Street Mothers’ Centre opens in Moqattam
Cairo, 3 April, 2008:
A new premise for the Young Street Mothers’ Centre in the Moqattam area in Cairo was officially inaugurated on Monday in a ceremony attended by Ms. Ann-Kathrin Linsenhoff, the founder of Ann-Kathrin Linsenhoff-UNICEF Foundation, and representatives from UNICEF and Hope Village Society.
The Young Street Mothers’ Centre is the first of its kind in Egypt. It provides a home to pregnant girls, young mothers and their babies, and women who have been subjected to abuse on the street, currently housing 22 young mothers and girls at risk of abuse, as well as 13 babies and little children. It is run by the NGO Hope Village Society.
The centre was initially established in 2005 in 10th of Ramadan City, in the outskirts of Cairo, with a grant from Ms. Linsenhoff, one of Germany’s most accomplished dressage riders.
“I am very happy to have met the girls today. This Centre is an example of a success story as it helped girls to become independent and it gives love and care to them and their babies.” said Ms. Linsenhoff.. “Many people in Germany have responded to our calls and donated their money, and I am proud to see that our fund-raising efforts in Germany have yielded wonderful results”.
The phenomenon of children in street situations in the major cities in Egypt has become a matter of national concern. These children often live in extremely difficult situations and experience various forms of abuse and violence. Girls are particularly vulnerable, facing physical and sexual abuse and are exposed to many risks such as trauma, pregnancy and contracting sexually transmitted infections.
“We have been working in the area for twenty years, at the beginning we only saw boys living on the streets and thus we served only boys. But now there are also girls living on the streets. They face repeated psychological and physical abuse. That is why we started five year ago helping girls as well, and with UNICEF’s support we established this Centre” said Mr. Sayed Monir, the chairperson of Hope Village Society.
The ultimate goal of the Centre is to reintegrate the girls into mainstream society, through a combination of health, educational, vocational and recreational services.
“For us, this has been a long emotional as well as professional journey, in trying to find a safe space for these girls where they can grow and develop to their fullest, and where they feel accepted and embraced.” Said Dr. Erma Manoncourt, UNICEF Egypt Representative. “The Centre is working hard through education and psycho-social support to build the girls’ self confidence and to teach them how they can take care of themselves and their babies, as well as help them find their independent lives in the society”, added Dr. Manoncourt.
Ms. Linsenhoff was welcomed at the Centre by a dance especially choreographed and performed by the girls. She also had a chance to hear from the girls about the workshops provided by the centre and what they aspire for themselves and their babies.
“Now I can finally sleep at night without having to worry about anyone attacking me during my sleep” said 20 year-old mother who wants to remain anonymous. She currently lives at the Centre with her baby boy. “I want my son to become a doctor when he grows up. I want to give him a life that I didn’t have”.
Since its establishment in 2002, the Ann-Kathrin Linsenhoff – UNICEF Foundation has supported initiatives for children in Egypt, Iraq, Cambodia and Southern Sudan. Ms. Linsenhoff’s top dressage horses all bear the name “UNICEF” and prize money won in competitions and funds raised through horse shows have been donated to support UNICEF projects for children. She started her career as a young rider, and won several prizes including team gold medals at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, 1990 and 2002 World Championships.
Iman Morooka, UNICEF Egypt, Communication Officer, email@example.com