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I climbed up a narrow set of concrete stairs in a dark stairway that led into the small flat. Ramy's mother and his sisters were waiting for us. His mother began telling me about her sleepless nights and how Ramy had made a dramatic turnaround only a few months earlier. She said that she often stayed awake crying inconsolably after his father died, wondering where she would get the few pounds needed to feed Ramy and his sisters.
Then, hope seemed to evaporate utterly when Ramy dropped out of school; he had never learned to read despite going from grade to grade, and finally just gave up.
After his first year in the Not Alone program, Ramy became literate and rejoined school with the help of Coptic Orphans. But because the Not Alone program is holistic, we were not content to rest with Ramy simply going back to school. We wanted to make sure that Ramy and his family had the opportunity to become self-sufficient and reach their full potential. Before he died, Ramy's father had a plumbing business. He had a small storefront facing a dusty village alley that he used as his shop. After passing, it sat unused for several years. That's where Ramy was standing as I talked with his mother. Ramy had cleaned, painted, and opened it once again, but this time for a different use. He had purchased three computers and set up an internet café with the help of his sponsor from the U.S. through Coptic Orphans. Now he makes enough to ensure that his family has food on the table and his sisters can stay in school. While running his new business, Ramy has also learned a lot about how to operate and repair computers. While other school children in Egypt rarely even touch a computer in their computer classes, Ramy is getting the hands-on experience that will open doors of opportunity once he graduates. Today Ramy's mother says that she no longer lies awake at night worrying about how she will feed her children. "God sent this at just the suitable time" she told me. Her children now have access some of their basic rights, and have become an example of self-sufficiency for their entire neighborhood.