Nahla El-Nemr knew the moment was coming but that still didn’t make it any easier.
As a 4th year student at an Egyptian institute for training social workers, El-Nemr’s studies required her to spend several months training in a large Cairo orphanage. When her group of 15 students arrived at the facility, El-Nemr’s fellow classmates were shocked to discover that she knew everyone there. The 30-year-old was forced to come clean about her background. “I told them, ‘By the way guys, this isn’t just an orphanage. It’s my home,’ ” she said.
That was a significant confession to make, in a country where growing up an orphan makes you—in El-Nemr’s words— a “street child, unclean, child of sin, a beggar.” It’s also one of the reasons she’s joined a growing movement of activists dedicated not just to improving the conditions for Egypt’s 12,000 orphans, but also to overturning the…
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