CAIRO: Many Egyptian families celebrate Mother’s Day on March 21 by giving gifts and flowers to mothers but for many women who work as street vendors, their celebrations are cut short.
“I have been coming to Hussein Mosque for almost 10 years and my sons do not know anything about me. I left them to live alone,” tissues seller Om Mohamed, 64, told The Cairo Post. She said her husband died and left her with seven children and no work.
She brought up her children until they finished their education. Her daughters are married and living with their husbands. Of her four sons, three work but one struggled with drug addiction. Om Mohamed said her children did not want her to live with them nor did they give her any money.
Hajja Monira told The Cairo Post that her husband left her and her three daughters 20 years ago after she failed to birth a son. She said he even married a second wife in hopes of having a boy but when the second wife delivered a girl, he “disappeared,” leaving his two wives and his daughters behind. The two women had to work.
Monira worked as a house cleaner but then sold vegetables as a street vendor. Her three daughters joined her after they came back from school. Monira said they are now between 24 and 29 years old and they are not married. “We are working hard to stay alive without a man to help us since the charitable organization that helps us cannot provide with more than 100 EGP ($14.50) monthly,” Monira said.
For some, Mothers’ Day is a day when the poor may sell more goods and they sometimes celebrate as entertainment as they try to sell more. Many charitable organizations help poor families, particularly needy mothers, including Resala, Masr al-Kheir, Bent Masr, among others.
Some organizations create small projects for poor families, helping them for example to establish a small supermarket, buy them a cow so the family can sell its milk, or start their own simple trade.