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Photo by Paul Kline for Illustration only.

Brothers Nadir and Hisham endured back-to-back loss when their mother died just one year after their father passed away. They continued to live in their tiny apartment in the slums of Helwan. A kind uncle who lived in the same building did what he could for the boys, but he could only provide meals. Beyond this, the brothers lived off their laborer father’s monthly pension, a meager 300 Egyptian pounds (about $50 USD).

While Nadir, the eldest, was able to manage the loss of both parents, Hisham went into a deep depression and didn’t want to finish school. He struggled every day with despair. Rep Saad arranged for him to see a counselor and also provided something very crucial: emotional support. While Not Alone provides for immediate needs, a major aspect of the program is to give a participant the confidence that he or she may have lost after a parent’s death or abandonment.

Volunteer Reps are extensively trained to work with emotionally wounded children. They are coached on areas such as active and empathic listening, and the principles of therapeutic and healing relationships.

The counseling Hisham received, as well as his mentoring relationship with his Volunteer Rep, greatly benefited him. Now Hisham is determined to finish his studies.

“The boys are grateful to their uncle, but they don’t want to be a burden on him,” says Rep Saad. “They’re determined to press forward and we’re determined to see them through.”