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Initiatives Lost in the Pandemic

Deaf children in Egypt face serious obstacles when seeking an education because many come from poor families and rural areas far from the capital, Cairo. Experts say nearly 5 million of Egypt’s 100 million residents are deaf, at the same time the organizations that work to educate them struggle to run quality programs. Clair Malik, an educator who founded and built the Egyptian diocese of the Episcopal Church’s Deaf Unit from scratch in 1982, said the school must work not only with deaf children, but also with their parents, the school tries to teach the parents sign language to help them communicate with the children. Malik, who studied at Gallaudet University for the deaf in Washington, D.C., even though she is not deaf, said there has been major progress in educating deaf people in recent years. Graduates of the Deaf Unit have gone on to attend university, she said, and Egypt now boasts sign-language interpreters on government TV and in at least one university. One of the most serious problems facing the Deaf Unit this year is the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced the closure of the residential side of the program. Mouneer said that was a difficult decision to make.