Valuable Girl Project Kicks Off New Session in Qena

Valuable Girl Project event speakers in Qena

Dear Friend,

I’m excited to share some more good news with you about our Valuable Girl Project partnerships with local Community Development Associations (CDAs). Last time, I told you about the launch of a new session of the Valuable Girl Project in Assiut with seven new CDAs. Now, I’m happy to let you know about another city where Coptic Orphans launched a new session of the program. On October 18, 2017, 90 key figures from the governorate of Qena came together to the signing of our contracts with another 7 local CDAs.

The event in Qena brought together several government dignitaries, local religious leaders, representatives of other non-governmental organizations, and members of the press. The event was held under the auspices of Abd Al Hamid El Hagan, the governor of Qena, who personally attended along with top officials from the governorate and the church. These included Bishop Beman, several undersecretaries of Ministry of Social Services (MOSS), Mouhmed Al Tarawy, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Endowments (awkaf), and the chairpersons of the partner CDAs and their staff.

Before I tell you more about what the Valuable Girl Project aims to do, I want to tell you what brought all of these people together by painting the picture of the real difficulties faced by girls in cities like Qena.

In impoverished parts of Egypt, tradition often excludes girls and women from the education offered to boys and men from the same age group. Less education leads to fewer opportunities, fewer opportunities lead to less power, less power leads to being viewed as being less valuable—which leads to exploitation. Viewed as “less valuable,” girls are more likely to be deprived of critical health care and are susceptible to harmful practices including female genital mutilation, child marriages, ‘honor’ killings, domestic child labor, and sexual violence.

To address these problems, the Valuable Girl Project works to empower girls and women by helping them complete their educations, raising their self-esteem and giving them more control over their lives. To do this, the Valuable Girl Project adopts educational one-on-one mentoring relationships between a “big sister” and a “little sister” to assist with overcoming learning difficulties, provide a role model, and to offer guidance and support that they might be lacking at home. To achieve this, we strive to create a safe space where girls can develop their sense of self-worth and develop leadership skills.

The event in Qena started with a welcome from Coptic Orphans where I thanked the governor for his support, and expressed my gratitude to the undersecretaries of MOSS for helping the relevant CDAs get official approval.

Following this was a presentation by Salwa Youssef, the representative of Coptic Orphans, who gave introductory remarks about Coptic Orphans and the Valuable Girl Project, which included the goals and philosophy of the program.

Afterwards, several distinguished guests spoke at length about the work of the Valuable Girl Project in Qena, which displayed the breadth of the support the project has in the city.

  • The Representative of the Regional Union of Qena’s NGOs expressed the need for the Valuable Girl Project in their communities. She explained that this project combats enormous problems including early marriage, children dropping out of school, and the weakness in student matriculation.
  • Gamal Yousef, the Representative of CDAs and a UN Consultant, relayed four key points including his acknowledgment of the difficulty of development projects obtaining MOSS approval and praising Egypt’s support for Coptic Orphans. He further stated that the project encourages giving and a sense of belonging towards the community and country. He concluded that the attendees were from various community sectors, reflecting the harmony and coexistence of Muslims and Christians in Egyptian communities.
  • The undersecretary of MOSS shared that they are doing everything to ensure the success of the Valuable Girl Project and expressed his hope of implementing the program in other MOSS directorates.
  • His Grace Bishop Bemen expressed how proud he was of Coptic Orphans for developing a wonderful system to support orphans throughout their education and praised its work, leadership, and service.
  • Mouhmed Al Tarawy, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Endowments (Awkaf), referred to Islamic teaching that “whoever wipes the heads of orphans” will gain paradise. He closed with a rhetorical question asking what a person would gain who not only wipes the head of an orphan, but also cares about their education and develops their personalities.
  • Abd Al Hamid El Hagan, the Governor of Qena, greeted Coptic Orphans and its leadership for its efforts and good work, inviting me to spend two days to explore Qena and see the impact of our work. He praised the Egyptians living abroad and all our partner organizations. He expressed his happiness with the goals of the Valuable Girl Project including national unity, acceptance, and tolerance. He noted that through the project, the girls become cultured, the community is served, and problems such as illiteracy and school drop outs are addressed.
  • Mouhamed Abd Mageed, the Governorate’s spokesperson, expressed his gratitude for all the joint efforts in helping him carry out his job efficiently by providing him with all the information needed for a press release. He stated, “This is the first time we meet an organization which helps and supports us in an accurate and rapid manner!”
  • Mokhles, the manager of hotel which hosted the event, expressed how much he and his staff enjoyed the event and organizing it.

Following the governor’s words, the chairpersons of the seven partner CDAs signed their contracts and received additional relevant documents.

I can’t express how extraordinary an event of this type is in Egypt. By God’s grace, your love, prayers, and support are what make milestones like this possible – thank you so much!

One Body in Christ,

Nermien Riad
Founder and Executive Director

Dreams Became Realities

Pictured above: a group of our 2017 Future Leaders Scholarship Recipients

Dear Friends,

I pray that you had a blessed start to your new year, and continue to witness God’s gracious blessings as we approach the joyous Feast of the Nativity in just a few days. With the culmination of 2017 behind us, we are encouraged by the goodness of our mighty God as we saw His hands work through our children, mothers, and volunteer Reps this past year. I wanted to share with you some of the wonderful highlights from this past year, so you too, could share in our joy.

At Coptic Orphans, we believe that growing a new generation of leaders is the key to survival of our Coptic culture and community in Egypt. Fundamental to nurturing new leaders in Egypt, is education; particularly higher education. I am happy to report that during 2017, 361 of our bright youth were Thanaweya Amma students and 235 students from Not Alone graduated from university! This is by no means an easy accomplishment, as our youth have faced many challenges including the insurmountable fate of losing one or both parents, in the midst of living in poverty during the rising economic crisis.

Despite this, many of our hard-working young men and women have won key scholarships for public and private universities, English language scholarships, among others. We introduced the Future Leaders Initiative to capture and highlight the additional activities and initiatives taken by Not Alone’s specially trained staff and Church-based volunteer Reps, to identify the most promising and distinguished participants. In 2017, of our many distinguished students, 34 received Future Leader Scholarships, which helped equip them to excel and reach their full potential to become future leaders and change-makers in their communities.  These scholarships played a huge role in boosting their self-confidence, helped them feel valued, and enabled them to make their dreams of obtaining a higher education become realities.

We are so proud of all our children, and especially of our distinguished students—not only for their determination to excel and succeed in their studies, but also because they each chose to selflessly give back to their communities by volunteering with their local churches or universities in more than one activity throughout this past year.

In other exciting news, by God’s grace and your generous support, 932 new children joined our Not Alone program in 2017. We look onwards to this New Year and are hopeful of the amazing things God has in store for each one His children.

 Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me,“Write, for these words are true and faithful.” And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.” Revelation 21: 5-7

Valuable Girl Project Kicks Off New Session in Assiut

Leaders from the government, civil society, religious and other sectors joined in welcoming the launch of the new project session in Assiut.

Coptic Orphans launched a new session of its Valuable Girl Project in Assiut on October 17, 2017, with the presence of over 100 project beneficiaries, government dignitaries, religious leaders, representatives of key non-governmental organizations, and members of the press.

The chairpersons of seven community development associations (CDAs) signed contracts at the kick-off event, which was held in the hall of Assuit’s governorate, to mark their partnership with Coptic Orphans to implement the project.

The Valuable Girl Project aims at empowering vulnerable girls who are at risk of dropping out of school by overcoming obstacles to their efforts to learn, thrive, and become change-makers in their own communities. Coptic Orphans will carry out the Valuable Girl Project in various communities in Qena, Assiut, and Cairo in coordination with the local office of the Ministry of Social Solidarity (MOSS), and in partnership with local CDAs.

The event was held under the auspices of the governor of Assiut, who personally attended along top officials and key figures from the governorate. These included undersecretaries of MOSS,  endowments (awkaf), of education and of sport and youth. Also in attendance were the governor’s adviser on CDAs and international organizations, Christian and Muslim religious figures, the rapporteur-general of the National Council of Women, the president of regional union of Assuit’s NGOs, and media representatives.

The Valuable Girl Project’s approach involves high school and university-level “Big Sisters” engaging elementary school “Little Sisters” in one-on-one mentoring and a variety of activities that facilitate the development of critical life skills and values, such as leadership, initiative-taking, critical thinking, and citizenship. Each Big Sister receives a stipend towards her educational expenses; each Little Sister receives help with homework as the pair meet two times a week in a quiet, peaceful environment conducive to personal and academic growth and development.

The October 17 event started with national anthem, which was followed by words of welcome from Coptic Orphans Executive Director Nermien Riad. She thanked the governor for his support, and expressed gratitude to the undersecretaries of MOSS for helping the relevant CDAs get official approval.

Next on the agenda was a presentation about the Valuable Girl Project, which included an introduction to Coptic Orphans, its goals, and the philosophy of the project.

A series of speeches by the honored guests displayed the depth of support the project enjoys in Assiut.

  • Dr. Fatma Al Khiat, undersecretary of MOSS in Assiut, thanked Coptic Orphans and welcomed cooperation with the organization. She explained the role of MOSS in relation to civil society organizations and expressed support for the “honest work” which has a good impact on the community.
  • His Eminence Sheikh Abd Al Nasser, undersecretary of endowments, praised women’s education, saying: “The girls are the future mothers.” He quoted verses from Bible and Qur’an which support his words, and he urged this in attendance to join hands in support of the Valuable Girl Project and its success.
  • Father Thaofiles, the deputy of Bishop Younas, praised the role of Coptic Orphans and affirmed the importance of education, quoting verses of the Holy Bible.
  • Father Marcos, the deputy of Bishop Kirollos, affirmed the importance of development in Egypt and the vital need to work together.
  • The rapporteur-general of the National Council of Women expressed her happiness with implementing the project in the governorate, especially since the president of Egypt had designated 2017 the “Year of the Woman.”
  • The governor of Assiut noted his unprecedented attendance at such an event, and insisted on addressing the assembled guests. He thanked Coptic Orphans and its board, and further expressed happiness at the goals and concept of the Valuable Girl Project. He spoke about the problem of students dropping out of school, and its negative consequences and causes. He praised the project for giving a monthly stipend to the “Big Sisters” to help empower her to continue her education.

Following the governor’s words, the chairpersons of the seven partner CDAs signed their contracts and received additional relevant documents.

Attendees:

  • The Governor of Assiut
  • The undersecretary of MOSS,
  • The undersecretary endowments (awkaf)
  • The undersecretary education
  • The undersecretary sport and youth
  • The Governor’s adviser of CDAs and international organizations
  • The Rapporteur-General of national council or women
  • The president of regional union of Assiut’s NGOs
  • The deputy of Bishop Younas
  • The deputy of Bishop Kirollos
  • The officer of NGOs and two social workers
  • 30 employees from the MOSS directorate, public relations, the Ministry of Sport, the Youth the Ministry of Education, and the Assiut National Council of Women.
  • 22 representatives of the print and digital media
  • 7 chairpersons of 7 partner CDAs
  • 9 board members of 7 partner CDAs
  • 33 CDAs staff of the Valuable Girl Project

Photos of the Event


Media coverage

The event received a lot of media coverage.

Press coverage

Below are the links to Egyptian press coverage of the event in Assiut. The first link is to Elwatan News, which is the most widely read here in Egypt.

www.elwatannews.com/news/details/2622024

www.alhuura.com/Akhbar-Al-Mhafzat/379309.html

elgornal.net/news/news.aspx?id=10929468

http://www.albawabhnews.com/2761480

http://www.vetogate.com/mobile/2915864

http://www.medanelakhbar.com/egypt/news558679.html#

Local TV and Radio

The Alnahar, CBC, and Upper Egypt TV channels interviewed one of the project field coordinators.

Local Radio

Minya Radio interviewed the same field coordinator about the Valuable Girl Project