Coptic Orphans staff member Nefr Nabil and her husband Wessam were living idyllic lives in pre-revolutionary Egypt.
They lived in Al-Rehab, a refined residential compound near Heliopolis where people could actually breathe the air and enjoy nature away from bustling Cairo. Their two teenage boys attended excellent schools. Wessam had a good job with an IT firm and Nefr was at the top of her profession as Director of Human Resources at a U.S. military base.
To sweeten it all was a loving extended family, a good church, and their own commitment to help the poor.
And then Egypt had to have a revolution.
Wessam’s company gave him a choice: transfer to the United States where the company was based. “We didn’t want to leave,” says Nefr, “but we felt that after the Revolution, it would not be easy for Wessam to find a good job. When we got the Visa, we felt it was a door open to us to allow our children a dual identity—and frankly—not to have to serve in the Egyptian army.”
But the move would prove to be emotionally wrenching for the entire family. “We left behind our parents, uncles, aunts, but worst of all, “says Nefr, “we felt intensely guilty about leaving the poor Christians. We had a way out. But poor Christians had no way out.”
Nefr further describes the struggle as focusing only on the four of them and feeling very selfish about it. “We wanted to live in Egypt, but it was as if Egypt didn’t want us anymore,” says Nefr.
Thankfully, their initial transition to the U.S. proved an easy one. Wessam’s company provided them with a furnished apartment in Reston, VA and loaned them a car. And fortunate for Nefr, she was able to find a way to serve Egypt from her new home. As it turned out, her husband’s CEO, Ash Rafael, is a board member with Coptic Orphans and introduced Nefr to the organization. She would eventually land a job in fundraising as Donor Relations Associate.
“You see that working with Coptic Orphans solved this problem. It gave me the satisfaction that God could use me more with poor Egyptians. I felt like, ‘I love you [Egypt] and I can reach you and I can do something for you.’”
As for her boys, 12-year-old Yousef seems to be the keeper of family wisdom these days. “The move was God’s will for us,” he says categorically. “He’s chosen this for us and we have to submit to God’s will and act positively.”
Nefr is working hard to obey Yousef’s wise words. After all, she says, America is clean, and beautiful and has great schools for the boys. In fact it has everything—except, “it’s not Egypt.”