“Momma Maggie” nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

Almost 70,000 s live off the huge city’s garbage dumps. Photo: Oliver Laumann Flickr
Almost 70,000 s live off the huge city’s garbage dumps. Photo: Oliver Laumann Flickr
Published February 9, 2012

U.S. congressmen have nominated Coptic Christian ministry leader Maggie Gobran for the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize. Affectionately known as Mama Maggie, the former Cairo university lecturer is living out Christian ministry by caring for the destitute people of Cairo’s teeming slums.

Congressmen Frank Wolf, Bill Huizenga, Joseph Pitts, Robert Aderholt and John Carter sent a letter to the Norwegian Nobel Committee Council urging it to consider Gobran for the prestigious award. “Ms. Gobran is a woman of the utmost integrity, and her tireless work has served thousands of Egyptians, including countless children. She has given a voice to the poor,” the letter said.

Born into a prominent middle-class Egyptian family, Gobran was a marketing manager and computer science professor at Cairo’s American University until she paid a life-transforming visit to the city’s slums. The result was Stephen’s Children Ministry, the charity she founded in 1989 to help families living in the festering garbage slums in this city of seven million. The charity assists Christian and Muslim children alike and aids impoverished rural communities in Upper Egypt.

At last year’s Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit meeting near Chicago, the soft-spoken Gobran said: “You know, we don’t choose where to be born, but we do choose either to be sinners or saints. To be nobody or heroes. If you want to be a hero, do what God wants you to do.”

The white-clad Mama Maggie is an almost angelic presence in Egypt’s slums, where about 70,000 zabbaleen (garbage people) scrounge for food and clothing in the sprawling dumps. With its 1,500 workers and volunteers, Stephen’s Children has provided services to more than 25,000 Egyptian families in Egypt through clinics, education and vocational centres and camps. Named for the first Christian martyr, the charity’s mission is to emulate the saint’s compassion, service and allegiance to God’s word.

The current upsurge in Islamic fundamentalism is making it more difficult for this Christian charity to operate and especially to help needy Muslim children. For more on Gobran’s ministry, go to www.stephenschildren.org


  • Diana Swift

    Diana Swift is an award-winning writer and editor with 30 years’ experience in newspaper and magazine editing and production. In January 2011, she joined the Anglican Journal as a contributing editor.

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