In Honor of Father’s Day, Wisdom from Two Refugee Dads in Cairo

June 16, 2022

Farhan and his children. Courtesy photos.

Every parent, no matter where they live or what their circumstances are, wants the best for their child. They want their little one to grow up healthy, strong and loved. 

Refugee parents living in the expansive Egyptian capital of Cairo often face extra hurdles as they work to make this a reality for their children. These can include limited access to quality education, financial instability and even concerns about their family being safe in the city. 

“My life has changed since I had my first baby,” Farhan says. He left his home country of Somalia in order to seek safety and start a new life for himself and his family. “I have become more responsible and aware of everything related to children,” he added.

Farhan heard about CWS’s partner in Cairo, St. Andrew’s Refugee Services. This refugee-led organization, known as StARS, helps refugees in Cairo find safe places to live, put food on the table, finish their educations, access medical or psychological care, pursue careers and navigate legal processes. Farhan applied for an opportunity that changed his life, and he now works as a Community Outreach Officer on the StARS team. 

Through it all, Farhan is a dedicated father. His colleagues know that he always looks forward to getting home and spending time with his kids. His colleague, Rama, observed, “After a very exhausting day at work, I saw Farhan excitedly buying coloring books for his children. Being a refugee father means doing more for your children.” 

Unfortunately, this “more” isn’t always fun like coloring books. One of the biggest concerns for an African refugee family like Farhan’s in Cairo is safety in the face of racism or violence. Farhan, as a father, always follows all the updates about the situation in Egypt, such as changes to residency procedures and refugee services, to ensure a lifetime of safety for his family. His children’s safety is what concerns him the most. Farhan is also concerned about the Somali heritage and culture he wants to pass on to his children in a new culture. It is essential for him that his children are still attached to the beautiful Somali culture and language. 

Farhan’s colleague, Waseem, is another of the refugee fathers who work at StARS. He is the team’s External Projects Coordinator. When his colleagues talked to him ahead of Father’s Day, he said, “Having a child does not change who you are. Still, it certainly changes many areas of your life. Now, some men choose to look at those changes as positive additions, while others see them negatively. The remarkable thing is that you get to decide how it changes you. For me, it was the best feeling in the world, and it made me happier. I became more responsible and changed my perspective of life. Fatherhood for me is about playing an active role in my daughters’ lives, which means that I assist my wife equally in raising our two daughters.”

Waseem and Farhan are just like any other fathers. They want safe environments for their families and better futures for their children. This Father’s Day, we are grateful for both of them and for the dads all over the world who are doing everything they can, every day, for their families.