2020: It’s been a challenging year! We are so thankful for each of you who have stood by HANDS during this time, empowering us to find creative ways to serve Egypt’s most vulnerable groups. 

Despite the limitations caused by this year’s pandemic, we are happy to report that the efforts you invest in are flourishing. We’ve even been able to start some new initiatives! This has involved transferring some programs online, enabling us to reach even more communities and individuals than through in-person initiatives. 

For example, earlier this year, we started a program to support the efforts of one of our partner organizations in Egypt, CEOSS, to empower women engaged in the informal economy there. The informal economy refers to all paid economic activities that are not subject to governmental regulation and do not offer social securities.  

Women selling flowers, vegetables or fruit at roadside stands; home-based workers, like seamstresses, cooks, caregivers, and cleaners; agricultural laborers; and dairy producers are a few examples. While both genders work in such professions, women around the world are over-represented in the informal economy. 

What these women have in common is that their work is not legally protected. They are not guaranteed fair pay. Their hours of work are not regulated. There is little enforcement of safety measures. They don’t have access to health insurance or pension benefits.  

Below is a short video from our Director of Programs, Ivana Smucker, filmed in her home office, where she works these days. In it, she explains HANDS’ efforts to organize trainings to assist women in Egypt’s informal sector and how we adapted our plans to the realities of 2020 and COVID-19.

This is just one example of how HANDS has been responding to the new realities of programming during the coronavirus. 

We are so grateful to each of you for your continued investment in providing opportunities for vulnerable communities in Egypt through vocational training, microloans, entrepreneurship mentoring, and technical assistance. 

We wish you and your family a safe and happy Thanksgiving! Thank you for being part of the HANDS team.