When you are in the hands of God. . .
Who become street-children in a city like Cairo?
Some of the children are run-away children from poor families, some are children set out by their parents because of one or another defect, like the girl I will write about in my next story, but most of he street-children are actually children who have lost their way home.
It has happened several times that I have picked up children early enough to be able to help them home. To put them on correct bus or to go with them in a taxi to their part of the city until they recognize where they are and can find their way home.
Some situations fasten more in my memory than others . . . .
Like the time when I met this boy . . .
At that time, I lived in an area named Mohandeseen in the Centrum of Cairo. I had just gone shopping and was carrying several plastic-bags with groceries. On my way home I suddenly noticed a boy about 9 years old, running to and from in the street giving a kind of repressed cry, looking at entrances of buildings and from time to time call out: “Mom, mom”
I had already learned the signals of a lost child and already I had noticed that his clothes were of good quality although they were dirty.
I don’t speak fluently Arabic but I can make myself understandable in emergency, go shopping and so on.
I went up to him and asked: “ What is wrong?”
He looked at me and suddenly said a lot I could not understand. I stopped a passing man and said: “This boy try to tell me something but I don’t understand. Can you translate, please? “
The man asked the boy what was wrong and again the boy talked a lot. The man told me that the boy was a beggar and only wanted some money.
The man told me: “Only leave him, he’s impolite . . . he’s asking for LE 20,- (20 Egyptian pound)”
I looked at the man and had a feeling that something was not correct in this case, but I took my groceries and started to walk. After a few steps I stopped and looked back . . . the man had also left and the boy was standing looking after me.
I went back . . . and asked: “Is it money you want?”
He started to cry and said: “NO, no . . . not money”
Again he said a lot I could not understand. I looked into the boy’s face and said: “Come with me. We have to find someone honest to translate.”
He understood my half English, half Arabic. I looked around and saw a pharmacy. In my mind I now intended to approach the pharmacist in a 100% Islamic way to bring him to act serious.
I told the boy to come with me to the pharmacy.
We went in and I said: “ Salam wa Laicum” (With God’s peace)
I continued: “Are you to be counted as a good Muslim? And Sir . . . do you have children?”
He looked at me with surprise and said: “I would believe so, madam. Why do you ask? I have tree children if it counts.”
I said: “I am in a situation where I need an honest man’s help. Are you to be counted honest enough to help a lost person?”
He looked with even bigger surprise and asked: “Are you lost madam?”
I said: “ No, sir. But I have a child here I suspect to be lost. He tries to tell me something but I can not understand him and I need a person who can translate. But don’t do as the previous man I asked. Because he lied to me and said the boy wanted some money, but that is not what he wants.”
I continued: “Sir, when I ask for your help now . . . look at the boy who is with me and imagine he is one of your children who have gone lost. How would you hope, people would have reacted if one your children asked someone for help? Help me now in the way you would like your own child to be helped.”
He looked at me as with fear and his voice was not steady when he said: “ Madam, who are you . . . who can talk such strong words.”
Since I don’t feel it’s funny to be joked with in a serious situation I replied: “ My name is Nour El Islam and just now, I am a tool in the hand of Allah.” I looked strait into his eyes.
His mouth was shivering when he turned to the boy and started to talk with the boy.
He turned to me and said: “The boy said that he can’t find his way home, but he doesn’t remember his name or address or anything. Madam, it’s impossible to help him in this case.”
I said: “Nothing is impossible when you are a tool in the hand of Allah. I’m educated as an antroposoph (The study of the brain) so I know some trick we can do to bring him to remember. With the help of Allah, we will succeed. Please Sir, help me in this. If it comes
customers . . . you take them, but when it’s nobody here, please help me.”
First I had to know for how many days he had been lost. . . He had been lost for 3 days.
For not to slip out of the seriousness of the case I said to the boy: “You have to ask Allah yourself for help. Ask for help to remember and to find your way home.”
He didn’t remember any prayer. (Although he was Muslim)
((I have to tell . . . this is very common that one looses the memory when one are in trauma and as a child the loss of memory can come very fast and fast become very serious. ))
I turned to the boy and said with caring voice: “That’s OK, dear. First of all, you shall know that you will stay with me from now on, until your start to remember. You will sleep in a bed; have food and bath and clean clothes.” (The pharmacist translated to the boy.)
By telling him this, I established the first step to remembering . . . the feeling of security.
I continued: “ I will start to say a prayer and you say after me.”
We did so and afterwards, the pharmacist said another prayer and he repeated after the pharmacist . . . . and then . . . he slowly started to remember the one prayer after the other. It didn’t take many minutes before he could pray his personal prayer for help.
Since he didn’t remember his name, I made a name-game. I told the pharmacist to write down all the names the boy said in the game. First I should say a name, so the pharmacist, so the boy, then it was my turn again and this way we continued for some minutes. We should say names faster and faster without thinking.
I knew that the boy instinctive would say his own name several times.
After some minutes, I asked the pharmacist what name the boy had repeated several times.
It was two names he had repeated more than others. I was sure that one of the names was his, the other was the name of his friend. The names were Mohamad and Ayman.
I told him to go to the door and look out and tell if he could see any dogs.
I told the pharmacist to suddenly call out the one name and I the other. I knew he would react intuitive on his own name. After a minute the pharmacist called: “ Mohamad, are you hungry?” . . . . . . No reaction . . . .
I called: “Ayman, can you see anything?”
He replied: “No, I can’t see any dogs.” . . . .His name was Ayman . . . .
And in the same minute he also remembered that Ayman was his name.
I asked him if he remembered if they had a telephone at home. He was sure about that but could not remember the number.
Now . . . usually one remembers the phone-number in rhythm. Some like; tatata tata tata, (like 456 78 90) or tata tata tata ta, (like 45 67 89 0) or tata tata tatata (like 45 67 890)
Again we had this game, but this time we should say numbers in rhythm.
Again I knew that he would eventually say his own number or a number to someone who knew him.
After some minutes, I asked the pharmacist what numbers of the boy looked like a phone-number. Tree of the numbers could be a phone-number.
He went to the phone and tried to call . . . the first one didn’t work . . . the second one, someone took the phone but they didn’t know him . . . The third number . . . . we got his mom on the phone . . . .
We had found his parents . . . he went to the phone and talked to his mom. As he talked to his mom, he suddenly remembered how he got lost. He had visited a friend after school, but when he should go home, he had entered wrong bus and ended up in a place he didn’t knew and didn’t know what bus to take or from where to come home again.
At that moment my emotions took over and I started to cry. It is so emotional overwhelming to know how easy it is to get lost.
The pharmacist had promised the mother that the boy would stay with him until they came to get him 1 hour later. That was the time of the way from where they lived.
I went home and never actually met his parents . . . . But when I came to work two days later, all my colleagues came running towards me when I arrived.
It had been a program at the television with the boy and his family, where they had told the story and wanted to thank me, since they had not met me in person.
I didn’t have TV . . . so I had not seen the program . . . but I got the message . . .
“Thank you, Nour El Islam.”