Category Archives: 25th Anniversary

Ambassador Meleika to Speak at Coptic Orphans’ 25th Anniversary Gala in Canada

Ambassador Meleika has always kept his door open to Coptic Orphans, and he has had a distinguished career in Egypt's diplomatic corps.
Ambassador Amin Meleika , who has had a distinguished career in Egypt’s diplomatic corps, will speak at our 25th Anniversary Gala on Sep. 28 in Brampton, ON.

Dear Friends,
Today, I’m honored to share the thoughts of Manal Bedwany, the director of our Coptic Orphans office in Canada.
— Nermien Riad

It’s incredible to be approaching Coptic Orphans’ 25th Anniversary in the company of so many good memories and dedicated people. Nearly 2,500 Canadians have shown amazing support for the children over the years, through devoted prayers, volunteering, and donations.

So as we approach the our 25th Anniversary Gala, marking the foundation of our head office, it’s with the knowledge that we would not have made it to this milestone without you, our beloved Coptic community.

With that in mind, it’s a great honor that our Gala on Sep. 28 in Brampton, ON will bring together two people who represent the most important aspects of our Coptic heritage: the Church, and Egypt herself.

We all know our first honored guest, His Holiness Pope Tawadros II.  His commitment to personally come to Brampton and accept the Leading by Example Award is a wonderful affirmation of the years of work that Canada’s Coptic community has devoted to educating and empowering Egypt’s children.

Today, I want to introduce another honored guest, who embodies the Egyptian side of our heritage that is so tightly interwoven with our Coptic identity. H.E.M. Amin Meleika, Consul General of the Arab Republic of Egypt in Montreal, will address the Gala, helping to keep us in touch with the motherland.

Ambassador Meleika has always kept his door open to Coptic Orphans, and he brings to his post a distinguished career in Egypt’s diplomatic corps.

Since December 2010, he has been Consul General of the Arab Republic of Egypt in Montreal to Quebec, Ontario, and the Atlantic Provinces. Prior to that post, in the period 2008-2010, he served as Deputy Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for North America. In the preceding years, 2004-2008, he was Deputy Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of Egypt to the UN-GENEVA.

His other posts include spending the period 2002-2004 as a member of the Cabinet of the Minister of Foreign Minister, and various high-ranking diplomatic positions in Hong Kong, The Netherlands, and Ethiopia.

We are honored that H.E.M. Meleika will join us on the evening of Sept. 28 and address the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. He brings with him a lifetime of experience connecting Egyptians overseas to the motherland, so we are confident that his speech will give us good insights into this crucial period in Egypt’s history.

It’s a blessing to be able to mark Coptic Orphans’ first quarter-century of work with leaders of the calibre of His Holiness and Ambassador Meleika.  In those 25 years, by the grace of God and with your support and prayers, we have educated and empowered 30,000 children in Egypt. I hope you will be part of the Gala celebration on Sept. 28, when we Canadians launch our next 25 years of transforming lives in Egypt!

To learn more about the 25th Anniversary Galas in Canada, Australia, and the United States, please visit our web page, where tickets can be purchased online. Tickets for the Canada Gala may also be obtained by contacting me. (Manal Bedwany; mbedwany@copticorphans.org; 450-736-0975)

Coptic Values Link Oz Kids to Egypt at St. Mary and St. Mina’s Book Fair

Not our standard Coptic Orphans uniforms, but useful costumes for a play!
Not our standard Coptic Orphans uniforms, but useful costumes for a play!

Dear Friends,
Today, I’m glad to share a report by Mary Loka, one of our donor relations associates. We’re grateful for the boost from St. Mary and St. Mina’s Coptic Orthodox College in Sydney, and to all our supporters in Australia.
— Nermien Riad

Book fairs have always been part and parcel of the childhood of anyone raised in Australia. It is a week where school children dress up as their favourite book characters, and celebrate by reading lots of books – a privilege many of the children in Egypt do not have.

So even while our Australia office is bustling with preparations for the 25th Anniversary Gala on Nov. 9 in Lilyfield, we were delighted to hear that St. Mary and St. Mina’s Coptic Orthodox College in Sydney wanted to donate the funds they raised during their book fair to Coptic Orphans.

Naturally, our team wanted to visit the children to say thank you, but as you can see from our photograph, it was also a good excuse for us to dress up and reminisce about our childhood!

Three of us were invited to make a presentation at the end of the book fair – our Australia office director, Nevine Iskander, my colleague Amir Shehata, and me. We thought there was no better way to present to primary school children than to perform a short play.

The play was about two children at a school canteen helping out another child who was new to the school and didn’t know it was canteen day. Although one child was reluctant to help and share their food, the other portrayed how sharing can bring so much joy and unity.

We later explained to them that in the same way, it is our Christian duty to help others in need. Guided by that principle, Coptic Orphans will use the money they raised to help children their age in Egypt who are less fortunate.

It was so amazing seeing how engaged the children were. We even got some feedback from one of the parents, who told us her daughter couldn’t stop talking about what she learnt from the play when she got home.

We’re thankful that the school raised more than AUS$400 for Coptic Orphans, and we hope to have instilled the virtue of sharing among the children. More importantly, however, we managed to connect these children to their roots more strongly, by making them aware of their friends in Egypt!

PS Did you know that, by the grace of God, we’re celebrating our 25th Anniversary with Galas in Australia, Canada, and the United States — and with the honored presence of His Holiness Pope Tawadros II in Canada, where he will accept the Leading by Example Award! We’re also growing and hiring — please share our job postings with all the skilled, passionate professionals you know! 

Honoring Ola Ghabbour’s Legacy at Coptic Orphans’ 25th Anniversary Gala

Ola Ghabbour (right) with Coptic Orphans executive director Nermien Riad at the 2008 Coptic Orphans Gala in New York.
Ola Ghabbour (right) at the 2008 Coptic Orphans Gala in New York.

I’m excited to begin sharing stories about the people we’re honoring at our 25th Anniversary Galas in Australia, Canada, and the United States.

At all three Galas, we’ll be presenting the Leading by Example Award, which honors pioneers whose character and achievements make them role models in Egypt and around the world.

You may already know that His Holiness Pope Tawadros II will accept the award at our Sep. 28 Gala in Canada. Renowned scientist and visionary planner Dr. Farouk El-Baz will receive his award at the U.S. Gala on Oct. 11, and Nick Kaldas, APM, Deputy Commissioner of the NSW Police Force, will receive his award at the Australian Gala on Nov. 9.

Just as importantly, at the Gala in the United States, we’ll be posthumously honoring past Leading by Example Award recipient Ola Ghabbour.

A leading Egyptian humanitarian, Ola Ghabbour received the award in 2008. And though she passed away on January 8, 2013, to the sadness of everyone whose lives she had touched, it’s important that the world continue to learn from her leadership and incredible spirit of volunteerism.

I’ve never seen anyone work the way Ola Ghabbour worked for the children of Egypt. She was a lifelong crusader, starting with her successful campaign to rescue Egypt’s “blue babies.” By gathering experts and promoting training for Egyptian doctors, she lifted the death sentence that heart defects usually imposed on these newborns.

But her most incredible contribution was building 57357 Children’s Cancer Hospital, the first and only state-of-the-art children’s cancer hospital in the Middle East and the largest of its kind in the world. Her efforts proved the power of ordinary Egyptians working together.

She began by fundraising among friends and family, and grew a remarkable campaign among Egyptians of all walks of life. She even encouraged Egypt’s poor to contribute a single pound. If millions of Egyptians did that, she reasoned, the hospital would rise easily.

She was right. The hospital opened in 2007, less than a decade after she began fundraising. In 2008, she received the prestigious World Health Organization’s UAE Health Foundation Prize in Geneva on behalf of the Children’s Cancer Hospital Foundation, Egypt.

Ola Ghabbour changed Egypt for the children, making it a more humane, more advanced, more caring place. All of us who work for the children owe her a huge debt, because she changed Egypt for them, and for everyone who loves them.