22 Young People + The Cairo Opera House. Could This Be Love?

Dressed to impress on the evening of the concert!
Dressed to impress on the evening of the concert!

Something really spectacular took place on the night of Oct. 23 at the Greater Theater of the Cairo Opera House!

Now that I’ve caught my breath from our 25th Anniversary Galas, I wanted to share what happened that evening, when 22 young people in our Not Alone program mingled with other music lovers at a concert.

I say “other music lovers” because I believe we all have an inborn, God-given love of music from an early age. That’s why we work to expose our programs’ participants to the arts — to nurture this love, and their talents.

The excitement all started when Dr. Mona Zaki, CEO of Global Strategic Consultants, arranged for 22 Not Alone participants, all university students, to attend a concert at the opera house along with their seven volunteer Reps.

Dr. Zaki, a professor at the American University in Cairo and sister of celebrated philanthropist and humanitarian Ola Ghabbour, made sure all the arrangements were in place for what promised to be a night of firsts.

For their part, the Reps took it upon themselves to go shopping with their “kids” for the proper attire for the event, and to educate them on what to expect.

The big night arrived, and as you can see from the photo above, the concert-goers were prepared!

That evening, they heard works by Mendelssohn and Mozart. The music was — well, I wasn’t there, so I’ll let those who went tell you how it was!

“The best part of the night was when the violinist stood up to play her solo. I felt like standing up and clapping for her, but I couldn’t do that because it wasn’t proper etiquette,” said Mariam Milad, from Imbaba.

“I was really taken by the level of organization, and the elegance of the place and the people,” she added.

“It was a dream come true,” said Marina Zakarey, a music-lover from Warraq.

“I grew up thinking that music — especially ‘foreign music’ — was a waste of time,” said Marina Mounir, from Ma’sarah. “But after this concert, I’m completely hooked on classical music.”

Responses like this reaffirm our commitment to reaching one of the Not Alone program’s fundamental goals — to encourage the development of a well-rounded personality in each young person. This focus on the child’s personal transformation is what sets Coptic Orphans apart from traditional charity work.

It’s a well-established fact that exposure to the fine arts is integral to achieving a balanced, healthy personality. Research shows that the arts engage young people in a creative way that regular schools and tests don’t provide. Moreover, studies consistently show that the arts play an important role in human development, enhancing the growth of cognitive, emotional, and psychomotor pathways.

If what the young concert-goers reported is any guide, being at the opera that night certainly pushed their boundaries and took them into a wealth of new experiences.

Best of all, the evening may only be a catalyst for greater personal development. For example, Dr. Zaki could see Marina’s excitement about the concert, and afterwards agreed to teach her how to read music!

Who knows where that will take Marina, and in what creative ways each concert-goer will choose to live out their new-found appreciation for classical music? That’s the beauty of the arts. Each new discovery opens doors to an entire universe.

We’ll have to see. For now, we’re incredibly grateful to Dr. Zaki for arranging this remarkable night at the Cairo Opera House!

About Nermien Riad

Nermien Riad founded Coptic Orphans in 1988 after volunteering for an orphanage in Cairo. When she saw that most of the children had living widowed mothers who simply couldn't afford to feed them, she gathered family and friends to sponsor children in Egypt. Today Coptic Orphans works through a network of 400+ church-based volunteers in Egypt, who visit fatherless families in their homes and make sure they get everything they need to unlock their full potential. That way, they don't have to get married off as child brides, work as 10-year old family breadwinners, or go to live at an institutional orphanage.