“We cannot live without reviving, nor revive if we live alone.”
Recalling the activities of Father Ayrout and his intense life, we find him an uncommon man who had a full life and one, which had never been futile serving all people he dealt with, and changed the life of many people whom he served.
Father Henry Ayrout, the founder of the AUEED, was the second son of a wealthy family of 7 children. He was born in 1908, and got his education at the holy family school (College de La Sainte Famille) in Cairo. He decided since he was a young man to join the Jesuites, and so he did after departing to France in the mid 1930's.
In 1938, Fr. Ayrout defended his prominent dissertation "Customs and Habits of the Peasant", and acquired his PHD degree from the University of Lyon, France. This dissertation gained reputed reorganization from many professionals in the development field at that time, as it concluded a systematic comprehensive view for developing the poor. The dissertation was then re-edited in a book called "the Peasant".
Fr. Ayrout was a charismatic figure, with great public relations. He directed all his efforts to help the needy in Upper Egypt, and push the development process forward. He was an active and effective citizen in the Egyptian community, he participated in many scientific committees, non governmental organizations, and he also held the post of vice-president of Caritas Egypt.
Fr. Ayrout focused exclusively on Upper Egypt; he called for improving the life conditions of the poor people there through establishing one class schools in the poorest villages. He mission extended deeper in Africa when he took an inspection tour in 1968. he also visited the USA in 1969 as a lecturer at the University of Columbia.
His departure from our world was a source of great grief to people from all sectors of the society; he died in the 10th of April, 1969 at the Roosevelt Hospital in New York. His funeral was attended from many prominent figures of the Egyptian society.
In his introduction to the book of "The Peasant" by Fr. Henry Ayrout, Dr. Mohamed Ghallab said in 1943 that "this book is considered the most beneficial book that he translated that was very enjoyable when read. This book revealed the vague parts of Egypt by describing the life of the Egyptian peasant, whom we owe much."
Fr. Ayrout prepared his dissertation on the "Customs and Habits of the Peasant" to acquire his PhD Degree from the University of Lyon, France, in 1938. This dissertation was then published to the public in a book called "The Peasant", this book is considered of the best general literature in the field of development as it represents a comprehensive methodology for developing agricultural communities.
Fr. Ayrout focused on the detailed description of all the aspects of life of the Egyptian peasant, mentioning his economic, political, and social life, therefore seeking the finest methods to raise the standards of living of the poor, and lifting them from their misery.
For achieving the projected target of the book, he introduced an applicable paradigm for development that is capable of alleviating the suffer of the poor. The book started by tackling the political environment of Egypt and its direct and indirect impact on the poor peasant. He then went forward on picturing the daily life of the peasant, answering questions like what does he do? , what does he wear? , where does he live? , what does his village look like? , what is his standard of living? , what does he eat? , what is his physical condition? And what are the diseases that infect him?...we can say that Fr. Ayrout gave a comprehensive demonstration on the Egyptian Peasant.
It is noteworthy that the main source of data for the book was gathered directly from the community of peasant that was collected by the direct contact of Fr. Ayrout with the poor people.
The Association of Upper Egypt for Education and Development (AUEED) is considered the application to the methodology that he set in his book, for achieving our ultimate aim of providing a better life for the poor people of Upper Egypt.
Dr. Mohammed Ghallab was a prominent professor of Philosophy at El-Azhar University, Egypt. He translated the book "The Peasant" from French to Arabic.