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MARC-StARS Montessori for African Refugees in Cairo in Collaboration with St. Andrew’s

Location: Cairo, Egypt

Program Established: September 2014
# of Children: 14 Ages Served: 3-6 years old
Immediate Needs:
  1. Materials, new and used in good condition.
  2. Mentorship and consultation on Montessori and refugee related issues (psychological health in early childhood and adolescence and family support through classroom related activities).
  3. Assistance creating a cultural curriculum for these African nationalities; Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan-Eritrea, Ethiopia (Oromo and Amharic).
  4. Donations of musical instruments and sports equipment.
  5. Research support.

Contact Person: Amira Nagati
Contact Information: anagati@stars-egypt.org

The repercussions of the 2011 revolution in Egypt on the conditions of life for the African refugees and asylum seekers have only worsened an already critical social status. Intolerance, and to an increasing extent, violence against black ethnicities pushes the lives of many of the African refugees to discretion and social insecurity, in addition to detachment from their culture of origin and alienation from the local culture barely present in the urban life of Cairo.

Project MARC is designed to implement the Montessori children’s home, in order to systematically observe the effect on different developmental lines of the African refugee children, with a special emphasis on the acquisition of culture as to resolve the cultural and social challenges they face in Cairo. Creating a solid research system that could be replicated in other community-based projects might help in understanding the impact –on the long run- on the conditions of life for African refugees in Cairo, and developing a generation of intercommunicating locals and Africans.

The initiative is based on the researched basic need for children for a cultural and social context for their developmental progress in all fields. The unavailability of such opportunity, even in the case of cultural preservation in the limited scope of the refugee family, has its reverberations on the fulfillment of the developmental needs of the children.

Maria Montessori’s definition of culture extends farther than simply the folklore heritage. She includes many aspects of the evolution of societies and civilization, threaded together with the very particular customs of the unit culture of origin.

The target is to tailor an ecological framework for addressing the mental and psychosocial health needs of the participants, through data collection, data analysis, and a series of assessments that are basically focused on addressing the displacement-related stressors and creating ecological intervention strategies utilizing the basic pillars of the project MARC, namely, cultural enrichment, psychosocial support, environmental education, and Montessori education.

The preschool will become the core of MARC as a community-based project that is focused on collective coping and a holistic approach to the well-being of the refugees, through different activities which permits communication with the local community through cultural channels.

The project will ideally help the community members discover meaningful social roles and re-establish social networks, all while acquiring environmental mastery.

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