Sister Emmanuelle Her Life

Table of Content

‘Sister Emmanuelle – A Life Filled with Achievements’

A summary of the life of Sister Emmanuelle.

This essay could be plagiarized. Get your custom essay
“Dirty Pretty Things” Acts of Desperation: The State of Being Desperate
128 writers

ready to help you now

Get original paper

Without paying upfront

Sister Emmanuelle, originally named Madeleine Cinquin, was born in Brussels on November 16, 1908. She was the daughter of Berthe Lenssens and Jules Cinquin and had two siblings.

Madeliene’s father sadly died in a drowning accident when she was just six years old while they were on a beach vacation. Although she was raised in Belgium, her mother decided to temporarily move them to Paris during the First World War. After a year, they returned to Belgium. During her time in Paris, Madeliene had a British Governess who taught her English, and she thrived academically.

At twelve years old, Madeleine aspired to become a nun after being influenced by Father Damien, a Catholic Priest aiding Leprosy patients in Hawaii. After learning about acts of benevolence, Madeleine Cinquin committed herself to assisting those less fortunate and consequently joined the ‘Order of Our Lady of Sion’. In 1923, she officially became Sister Emmanuelle upon taking her vows, with Emmanuelle translating to ‘God is with us’.

Sister Emmanuelle taught in convent schools for privileged children. However, she believed it was her duty to use her teaching skills to help less fortunate children. In pursuit of this mission, she stopped teaching in Turkey and Tunisia and focused on assisting those in Egypt. Sister Emmanuelle’s desire to help the ‘zabaleen’, the thousands of refuse collectors in Egypt, came to the attention of a representative of the Pope. The representative recommended that she support the zabaleen community living at a garbage dump called Ezbet El Nakhl.

Ezbet El Nakhl was a filthy area populated by garbage collectors who collected Egypt’s rubbish for meager wages and resided in a destitute, unclean, and unsanitary location where the country’s waste was accumulated and organized. The children lacked education and had no means of amusing themselves, resulting in them engaging in misbehavior.

Sister Emmanuelle, who was 60 years old at the time, moved into Ezbet El Nakhl in 1971. In her new home, she lived in a small one roomed hut with very few possessions. She made a decision to abandon her luxuries and adopt the same lifestyle as her zabaleen friends. Every day at 5 o’clock in the morning, she would travel into the city for mass at the city convent. Sister Emmanuelle endured the same struggles as the zabaleen, such as limited food supply, infestations of white worms in their food and housing, as well as dealing with fleas and diseases.

Sister Emmanuelle quickly established a school in her spare room at Ezbet El Nakhl, accepting students of all religions who had a desire to learn. She took her students on educational outings throughout Egypt, providing them with their first opportunity to explore the country beyond their usual scavenging activities. In addition to the initial school, she also opened a school for men, where many individuals eagerly enrolled to study the Arabic alphabet.

Sister Emmanuelle was determined to establish a youth club and center to aid the Zabaleen. To fulfill her vision, she diligently gathered 15,000 from local charities and assistance funds across Europe. After two years of dedicated effort, she successfully accomplished her goal. The Salam Center, named after the Arabic word for peace, was inaugurated on March 29th, 1979. This comprehensive facility provided the young residents of Ezbet El Nakhl with various amenities including a kitchen, club, pool, football field, and lounge. Moreover, the center also extended its support to encompass social, medical, cultural, and educational assistance.

When Sister Emmanuelle was content with her efforts at Ezbet El Nakhl, she proceeded to Mokkatam, a garbage dump that was in a more deteriorated state than Ezbet El Nakhl. Sister Emmanuelle initiated the task of gathering funds from charitable organizations to construct a composting facility, and ultimately, she succeeded in accomplishing this goal.

Sister Emmanuelle’s efforts in the slums dedicated to waste management significantly improved the living conditions of the refuse collectors. Despite being 77 years old, she continued to raise funds for them.

B. Sister Emmanuelle’s motivation is rooted in Christianity.

Sister Emanuelle’s strong Christian faith and the inspiration she received from fellow Christians played a significant role in shaping her character. As a result, she developed a genuine desire to assist and serve others by utilizing her skills and abilities.

At the age of eleven, Sister Emmanuelle developed an interest in missionaries and their dedication to assisting those in need in Africa.

Albert Mahthay, a Christian priest, journeyed to Africa where he actively fundraised for the employment of doctors and teachers. Moreover, he provided guidance and education to numerous individuals in Africa, actively promoting equality among various religions and cultures. It was through Albert Mahthay’s profound influence that Sister Emmanuelle was inspired to dedicate herself to assisting others and serving the community.

At the age of twelve, Sister Emmanuelle discovered a book about Father Damien, a Catholic priest who dedicated himself to helping those with leprosy on the coast of Hawaii. This book greatly influenced Sister Emmanuelle’s own missionary work.

Sister Emmanuelle reached out to the Vatican, asking for advice regarding her fundraising efforts for the Salem Center at Ezbet El Nakhl. Monsignor ‘B’, a resident of the Pope in Vatican City, advised Sister Emmanuelle to continue working towards her goals and remain focused on raising funds for the center. The Vatican provided Sister Emmanuelle with successful fundraising strategies and motivation for her missionary work.

Sister Emmanuelle was deeply committed to her faith in Christ and the vows she made in 1923. She found purpose in assisting others and serving Christ through her work. Her perspective on life emphasized the importance of selflessness and kindness towards those who were in need. Sister Emmanuelle drew great inspiration from her Christian beliefs and was supported by numerous Christian figures in her pursuit of her aspirations.

C. Evaluation of Sister Emmanuelle’s Accomplishments-

Sister Emmanuelle accomplished numerous significant achievements throughout her life. She demonstrated remarkable dedication and perseverance in her efforts within the rubbish slums. Her diligent work and unwavering determination resulted in enhancing the living conditions for the zabaleen residing in the rubbish dumps, specifically in Ezbet El Nakhl and Mokkatam. Her endeavors also played a critical role in fostering greater respect for the communities inhabiting these poverty-stricken areas.

In 1971, Sister Emmanuelle settled in Ezbet El Nakhl, an impoverished area near Alexandria, Egypt. Witnessing the challenging lifestyle and deplorable living conditions, she dedicated herself wholeheartedly to assisting the residents of the slums.

In the spare room of her hut, she began teaching basic Arabic to children and men. Her classes were highly effective, with numerous individuals, including herself, successfully passing Arabic reading and writing exams.

After meeting the people and experiencing their way of life, she made the decision to assist them in establishing a center that would serve educational, medical, and religious purposes. In 1974 and 1976, she embarked on her initial fundraising journeys. During these trips, she encountered Monsignor ‘B’ who provided assistance with fundraising efforts. After undertaking two extensive trips, she managed to gather a sum of $15,000, which proved sufficient for the establishment and construction of the Salem Center.

The Salam center, which means peace in Arabic and is also a common saying, was unofficially opened on March 29th, 1980. After successfully completing her work in Ezbet El Nakhl, she moved on to another slum called Mokkatam to help the refuse workers.

In Mokkatam, the conditions were even more severe than in Ezbet El Nakhl, with numerous families residing on a gravesite and enduring dire circumstances.

In 1985, Sister Emmanuelle made plans to establish a composting factory with the objective of converting garbage into fertilizer. At the age of 77, she continued to travel abroad in 1985 to raise funds for both Mokkatam and Ezbet El Nakhl. Sister Emmanuelle’s efforts in the slums and with the zabaleen contributed to a better quality of life for garbage collectors, and ongoing improvements are still being implemented.

‘Religious Figures’ by AM Milner was published in 1997 by ManMcmillan.

Cite this page

Sister Emmanuelle Her Life. (2018, Jun 26). Retrieved from

Remember! This essay was written by a student

You can get a custom paper by one of our expert writers

Order custom paper Without paying upfront