Monday, October 20, 2008

Defender of the poor, Sister Emmanuelle dies at 99

One of France's most beloved nun's has passed away.

Sister Emmanuelle died in her sleep at a retirement home in France Monday.

She helped an outcast people in Cairo, who eked out living collecting garbage. The residents of Cairo's slums had no rights of there own before Sister Emmanuelle met them.

She then spent two decades building schools, clinics and gardens for the people. The organization she began now helps the poor in 8 different countries.

This snippet from the AP story found on KFMB, gives her obituary, and more details on her life's work.

Born Madeleine Cinquin in Brussels on Nov. 16, 1908, she spent her childhood between the Belgian capital, Paris and London, according to the association's Web site. A member of the Notre Dame de Sion order, she lived many years in France.

Sister Emmanuelle initiated development efforts in the Muqattam, a peripheral Cairo slum, founding a primary school and providing scavengers with vehicles to haul garbage.

She eventually attracted broader attention to their plight, which led to new schools, health care projects and income-generating strategies for the slum dwellers.

"She was living right among them, the garbage collectors, the pigs, the whole mess. I had never seen anything like this in my life," said Dr. Mounir Neamatalla, a leading Egyptian expert in environmental science and poverty reduction who worked closely with her throughout the 1980s.

Neamatalla worked with the nun on a composting plant to process the vast amounts of manure produced by the garbage collectors' pigs, which was then processed and sold as fertilizer.

Upon her return to France in 1993, Sister Emmanuelle continued to speak out for the needy, regularly appearing on French television, her white hair swept up into a gray habit and her eyes sparkling behind large glasses.

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