Leaving Home to Stay Safe

Leaving her one-room home was Rana's only choice for the risk of COVID-19

Dalia Younis
Leaving her one-room home was Rana's only choice for the risk of COVID-19
UNICEF/Egypt 2020/Karim Soliman
31 December 2020

In a small household at the heart of Cairo lives 6-year-old Rana (not her real name) with her parents and baby brother. Her father, who works as a freelance craftsman, was already facing a lot of financial challenges when this added burden came up: his wife tested positive for COVID-19.

Leaving home to stay safe

While everyone was advised to stay home during the pandemic, Rana and her baby brother had to leave home to be protected against the infection. This was the only choice her father had as it was impossible even for a home isolation in their small house. "The four of us sleep across the room with no separating walls," the father said, "I was torn between trying to find a hospital that would take care of my wife and taking care of the children."

The father reached out to one of UNICEF-supported NGOs in Cairo. "We discussed all the options with the father, including reaching out to extended family members and close friends who would be able to care for the children or temporarily hosting them at the NGO's safe home," said the case worker who was managing Rana's case.

'Safe home' is a care home especially equipped by UNICEF to offer protection and rehabilitative services for children who are in need of an immediate intervention during a transitional phase, such as waiting for a custody dispute settlement or being reintegrated with a new family.

Ultimately, after reviewing all different options, the most appropriate family was identified to host Rana and her brother.  

Leaving her one-room home was Rana's only choice for the risk of COVID-19
UNICEF/Egypt 2020/Karim Soliman
"The four of us sleep across the room with no separating walls," the father said, "I was torn between trying to find a hospital that would care for my wife and taking care of the children."

Home-delivered support

The NGO sent nutrition and hygiene supplies to the children at their temporary residence. These supplies are part of UNICEF’s support to the Ministry of Social Solidarity to distribute among all care houses across the country, thanks to the generous of the Embassy of Netherlands and Japan. They also learned that little Rana was being bullied by neighbors because of stigma and caseworkers were sent to support her on facing it. "They said very bad things about my mom because she had the coronavirus," said Rana, "it made me very upset."

Leaving her one-room home was Rana's only choice for the risk of COVID-19
UNICEF/Egypt 2020/Karim Soliman
Rana (unreal name) was being bullied by neighbors because of stigma. "They said very bad things about mom because she had the coronavirus," said Rana, "it made me very upset."

Family recovery

After the mother finally tested negative, a rehabilitation plan was put for all the family members. Thanks to the European Union funding, caseworkers had the resources to deliver an appropriate answer to this family crisis, supporting children helping them to cope and reintegrate their communities. They also provide psychosocial support for the mother and emergency financial aids, helping to address the terrible situations faced by the most vulnerable children and families in Egypt.