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The Church Leads the Way for Orphans

 

Everything Coptic Orphans does is inspired and guided by the teachings of the Church.

Coptic Orphans works in 55 dioceses in Egypt, in close partnership with each local bishop, who also guides in areas of local need and nominates new volunteers.

Bishops from the Coptic Orthodox Church from all levels have expressed their support and encouragement for our work, including His Holiness, the late Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria, who told us, "We appreciate very much what you are doing… you are saving God’s children ... As it says in the midnight prayers, you 'remember those who have no one to remember them.'"

So it was a blessing beyond all imagination when His Holiness Pope Tawadros II appeared in person at the Sept. 28 gala in Toronto, Canada to accept the Coptic Orphans Leading by Example Award. The award honors pioneers whose character and achievements make them role models in Egypt and around the world.

His Holiness was our clear choice to receive the award because of his noble and constant efforts to realize his vision of an Egypt of tolerance and prosperity, where Christians and Muslims live alongside one another in peace. Furthermore, His Holiness has been an incredible advocate for the children where we serve as far back as 1999, while he was a general bishop.

His Holiness told the audience in Canada: "I served indirectly with Coptic Orphans in the areas where I was general bishop alongside Bishop Bachomious. During this time, I watched Coptic Orphans and their very effective service in three locations: the border city of Marsa Matrouh; King Mariout, a desert city; and El Beihira, which is an agricultural governorate. I watched them impact all three of these areas."

As always, His Holiness directed everyone's thoughts towards the right place — in this case, the joy that comes with serving the children and their families as part of One Body in Christ. As he said: "Bravo for your service! And I'm not sure who's happier, you or the children you serve — you are all happier!"

 

 

A Special Meeting

"The ministry of Coptic Orphans is a good and outstanding example of a ministry with specific characteristics: Administratively, it’s excellent. Ten out of ten. From the practicality angle, and perceiving people’s unique needs, ten out of ten ... it’s a good management model I hope all our Church bodies can emulate and follow." – His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, Patriarch of Alexandria, March 31, 2013

In March 2013, His Holiness Pope Tawadros II chose to meet with hundreds of Coptic Orphans’ Church-based volunteers.

There at St. Mark’s, amidst the holiest symbols of our faith, His Holiness said: “I am happy that I participated with you in a service that I respect very much, and that I served in and shepherded when I was a bishop in El Beihira, Damanhour, King Mariout [and] Marsa Matrouh ... I have a personal relationship with all the servants.”

Indeed, the volunteer Reps are Coptic Orphans' backbone. Without their one-to-one bond with each child, and constant vigilance over their health, safety, and education, there would be no Coptic Orphans. Their work is inextricably tied to the steadying and sacred presence of the Church in each parish where Coptic Orphans serves. It comes as no surprise that 23 Coptic Orphans Reps have gone on to become priests.

Ever since Coptic Orphans was founded in 1988, the shared vision of “saving God’s children” has reached all the way from the very pinnacle of the Church – the throne of the Patriarch – to the lowest, coldest, most despairing corners of Egypt. Here is Coptic Orphans’ work by the numbers:

• Over 450 church-based volunteer Reps visit children’s homes as advocates and mentors
• 55 Coptic dioceses in Egypt include Coptic Orphans in their services
• Over 30,000 children empowered to break the cycle of poverty through education, health, housing, and other programs 

• 90 percent of expenditures go to programs in Egypt
• 100 percent of children served are enrolled in school

With the Church leading the way for orphans, this, then, is our effort to obey the Word of God: "Bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause. (Isaiah 1:17)