by Doug May (January 2007)
Our Lady Queen of Peace
Masaakin Sheraton, Cairo, Egypt
“Handicapped Children”, this is a kind of misnomer as the age range of our “children” is from five to fifty years old. Our Lady Queen of Peace Home was the dream of a Coptic Catholic priest friend, Father Antoun Francis. He had been the national chaplain in Egypt for Jean Vanier’s “Faith and Light” movement know in Arabic as “Imaan wa Nuur”. Antoun discovered that parents of the mentally handicapped in Egypt were distressed as they and their children became older that their sons and daughters would have no place to live and no one to care for them once they either needed care themselves or died. Mentally, most of these “children” are “frozen” at the age of five to seven years with all the innocence and dependence that comes at that age. Without parental care or that of their siblings, many of these “children” end up confined in rooms, committed to mental hospitals or lost in the streets. Father Antoun wanted to build a residence and school modeled on the L’Arche concept that would house and train these souls.
In 1996, construction was begun for O.L.Q.P. Home which was opened and dedicated by Cardinal Patriarch Stephanos II Ghattas on 30 May 2004. I am currently the “Wakiil” or administrator and an exercise trainer at O.L.Q.P. This complex consists of eight four-bedroom flats that can house up to 100 residents and a day school that can offer training to 100 day students. The Home also has a therapy pool, O.T. and P.T. rooms, exercise room and chapel. In an attempt to earn some of the money needed to cover running expenses, O.L.Q.P. Home offers forty guest rooms, meeting rooms, dining room, the exercise room and the therapy pool for outside use at a reasonable charge. It also sells handicrafts and custom-made wood furniture.
Construction of O.L.Q.P. has cost US$2.2 million and running costs average about US$75,000 per year. To date, more than 20 funding organizations have contributed to the cost of building the Home including US$300,000 from Maryknoll (including much of my personal housing and transportation allowance). My personal sponsors and I have contributed over another US$200,000 thanks to their generosity and my mother’s inheritance. I wish to thank all those who have made Father Antoun’s dream a reality and invite others to continue to donate to O.L.Q.P. Home by giving either to the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers in general or to my person mission account. In this way, the Home can continue to offer its services to those in need.
(Good Samaritan Home for Orphans also shares this site independently.)