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Wagdy: Confronting poverty, in Cairo and elsewhere

As I walk the streets of Cairo this summer, barefoot children begging me for a few Egyptian pounds confront me. Their mothers shower me with religious pleas; they tell me that God will bless me, that I will be rewarded, that it’s Ramadan. It’s not as though I haven’t ever been asked to spare some change on University Avenue or in San Francisco; we’ve all seen this. But these appeals are different. The sheer number of poor people in the street is saddening. For every poor person who asks me for money, I see several more just lounging about on the ground.