I am E£180,000 in debt, the main custodian of my 10-year-old daughter and at serious risk of going to jail by the end of this month!
My once-in-a-lifetime opportunity turned out to be a nightmare and I am overburdened with worry and fear about what the future holds for my daughter and me.
Two years ago, I got the kind of offer I had always dreamed about. My close friend of 15 years approached me with a fantastic business idea. He was hoping to start a mini-bus transport company which would partner with local schools to help get their students to school. I was immediately hooked! At that time, I was working in a supermarket, but I had big ambitions. I have always been passionate about community building, am good with people and want to become a published author. So, I eagerly agreed to this business partnership, excited and hopeful to start building a new life for myself and my family.
At the beginning, the business was going smoothly, and we were having a lot of success. We were a good team. Being more inclined to human relations building and networking, I was in charge of connecting with schools, recruiting clients, keeping track of client’s needs (e.g. if someone was not coming into school, they would message me). I also had the chance to become a mentor for the children we were working with which was a wonderful experience for me and thankfully, both the parents and children appreciated my efforts as well. My friend on the other hand was in charge of handling the finances, equipment and logistics of the company as he was more inclined toward that. At this time, we were working using two mini-buses, I was renting one out and he was renting out the other. As my friend was the only one who had a heavy vehicles license, both cars were registered under his name. We planned to continue registering any future cars under his name until we were ready to register our business and I was ready to get my heavy vehicle license.
In our second year, fuelled by our success, we decided to buy two more mini-buses in order to expand our reach and service capacity whilst also increasing the profit we could keep for ourselves. He bought his vehicle by borrowing money from members of his family and I decided to write out a personal cheque to a car dealership, in order to have ownership of one of the cars as well. Though it had to be registered in my friend’s name, I would get more profit from it. In order to pay back the owed amount, the car dealership would receive a set amount that was to be deducted from my earnings each month. This process was managed and overseen by my friend who was responsible for all the finances of the business.
A few months into the second year, I noticed the amount I was getting at the end of each month was significantly less than it had been in the first year. This didn’t make sense- we had 28 (14 more than the first year) clients and business was going well. So, I began to ask questions, and this led to a lot of tension between my friend and me. This continued until one day the car dealership took back my car and I was notified that I was heavily behind on my monthly payments. My friend and I had a huge falling out. He told me because the cheque was signed in my name and I had guaranteed the payments for the car, I alone was legally responsible to solve this problem. We had not signed a contract or formalised our business partnership (we wanted to see if things would work out first before taking on the legal expenses and paperwork) and therefore I had no legal avenues from which I could seek justice. I did not abandon my commitment to the families and children and paid out of my own pocket in order to ensure my clients were still able to get to school until the school year finished. However, that was the end of our business partnership and a close fifteen-year friendship.
Unfortunately, my situation only got worse. As the financial pressure increased (due to getting reduced earnings at the end of the month), the stress caused conflict in my marriage. Once the car dealership company began threatening to take legal action, my marriage started collapsing. My ex-wife asked for a divorce as I was not able to financially provide for her and there was a risk of me going to jail if legal action was taken against me. When she moved out, she took half of our savings with her as well, though it must be mentioned it wasn’t a large amount. We had enjoyed 12 years of marriage together.
I am now the main custodian of our ten-year-old daughter (due to my ex-wife’s schedule and needs in building her new life). My daughter lives with me and I provide for her financially, as I have always done. However, due to my debt and financial struggles, I cannot provide her with many basic necessities, and we eat the cheapest food we can get. Even more heartbreaking for me is the fact that the school year starts in September and I do not have the financial means to pay for my daughters’ attendance. I have always prioritised my daughter’s education and this is the first time that my daughter will be unable to attend school. In addition, I have not paid my bills for two months and though my landlord is understanding of our situation, I am fearful about when his patience will run out and we will become homeless.
Currently, I work as a brick layer and try to pick up shifts when there is one available. For a day’s work, I get paid about E£50, which around 4-5 Australian dollars. Of course, this is very difficult work with little pay, but I must do it in order to put something on the table for my daughter. I have gone to many people for help, but no one is able or willing to help me- especially because my debt is so large and most working people in Egyptian are living either poverty stricken or living pay check to pay check.
I naively took a big risk and am paying for it dearly. My mental health has greatly suffered, I have lost my home and am at serious risk of going to jail. I have lost my wife and if I go to jail, I will lose my daughter as well. Please donate to my campaign and help save our family.