Egyptian youths with disability cook at the SETI center (Support, Education, Training for Inclusion), a section of Catholic charity Caritas, in the capital Cairo on June 7, 2017. (AFP Photo)
Cairo: Ghada Tosson waits anxiously outside an Egyptian high school in the Helwan district south of Cairo as her daughter with Down’s syndrome sits her end-of-year exam.
Winning the chance to sit standard high school tests took years of fighting in a country where people with mental disabilities are often marginalised and receive little assistance.
“I’m so proud. We’ve been fighting for 18 years for this moment. She sat the exam like any other high-schooler,” says Tosson.
“No matter the result, it’s proof that it can happen.”
She is visibly moved as her daughter comes out of the school, smiling and looking serene.
Out of Egypt’s population of around 93 million, an estimated 14 million have some form of disability, says Eglal Chenouda, director of the SETI Centre, a section of Catholic charity Caritas which supports the disabled.
Three-quarters of them have a mental disability, she says. The organisations helping them are few and far between.
“Most of them are staying at home, deprived of any services,” she says, adding that only two to three per cent of them receive the services they need.