Established in 1925 by the Anglican Church in Egypt, Boulaq Community Development Centre has a ninety year history of serving the poor and needy from all backgrounds. It is probably one of the first local social development centres in Cairo.
An earthquake in 1992 left the original buildings in very poor condition, so the centre was moved to the grounds of All Saints Cathedral in Zamalek. Residents of the Boulaq neighborhood regularly travel the short distance to Zamalek to participate in the centre’s programmes and make use of its resources.
From the beginning, the centre has focused on creating income generating projects for women, a core tenet of EpiscoCare’s Economy programme. The women are trained in sewing and embroidery at the centre. After the training they are able to work from home. The centre sells the finished products at the Wady Craft Shop and the Touch of Egypt Craft Shop, which provides the women with a small income. The centre also provides older women and widows, who are unable to work, with financial or medical assistance as needed.
In the past few years, the centre has expanded its programming. Boulaq now offers seminars on health and community organisation. Twice a month, up to one hundred women meet for education on hygiene, healthcare, pregnancy, family planning, human rights, money management, how to support children’s schooling, and other practical lessons. The meetings include spiritual education and worship. The centre also helps families to pay school fees and offers tutoring classes for children and literacy classes for adults. The centre staff builds relationships with beneficiaries through home visits and family events such as a Christmas party, a Mother’s Day party, and summer trips to the beach, but more regularly by taking time with those who bring in embroidery work, stopping to listen to their stories and offer encouragement and advice.
The vision of Boulaq Community Development Centre is to improve the living standards of the families living in the area of Boulaq by offering activities including:
- Sewing and embroidery classes for women
- The sale of handmade products
- Awareness lessons in health, environment, human rights, economy, parenthood and society
- Educational support for children
- Medical support for families, children and pregnant women
- Home improvements.
- Financial management seminars
- Micro-finance programmes, including micro-credit and business training
- Assistance in the job search