Category Archives: Issues:Education

We Have Not Forgotten Them

In July 2015, I shared with you that we learned that 10 of the 21 martyrs who were killed in Libya, had left behind 19 children. We spent a lot of time carefully looking at the children and their situations.

We discovered that all of the families, by God’s grace, were benefiting from great generosity from both the Egyptian government and people all over the world. These families were given many resources that would help meet their day-to-day needs and was to be shared among the martyrs’ wives, children, parents, and their unmarried siblings. Coptic Orphans also committed to standing with these children—not just by providing financial resources —but also by enrolling the 19 children into our Not Alone Program.

But what’s really valuable — and transforming — is our Reps’ work to mentor the children of the martyrs, promote their self-discipline and resilience, instill a strong work ethic, and support their education. That is real long-term development, not charity.

Our Reps were prepared to give each child of the martyrs the love and mentoring they needed after tragically losing their fathers. Their families also receive the wider support we offer to all of the program’s families, such as workshops to help widows manage their finances, and to empower them to support their children.

We had mentioned three years ago that we’d only know the final results of these efforts when these children grow up. But as we commemorate the anniversary of the martyrs, I wanted to share an update about one of the families of the 21 martyrs. For Emad, Mariam, and Karmina,* their father was one of the martyrs, who faithfully called out Jesus’ name as he was killed on the beach in Libya. He was survived by his wife and children, ages 22, 20 and 14.

At the time of his father’s death, Emad, the middle-child, was in his last year of general high school. When he first joined Not Alone, his Rep encouraged him, and provided him with the emotional and psychological support needed to get through the trauma of his father’s death. His Rep worked through the trauma Emad experienced, and turned his tragedy into pride for his father.

Emad’s Rep also worked with him and his sisters on getting through their education despite their real-life difficulties. He made Emad aware about scholarship opportunities available post-graduation. This encouraged Emad, who ended up scoring 90.5% his final year of general high school. Since he did not want to live apart from his family, Emad made the decision to forgo the scholarship opportunities available at universities in other governorates, and enrolled in the Faculty of Commerce at Beni Suef University. Emad successfully completed his first year and is now going strong his second year.

Our program also helped Emad’s eldest sister, Mariam to work through her shock after watching the graphic video of her father’s death. Despite this, Mariam’s Rep helped her continue through her university education until she was able to graduate and obtain a bachelor’s degree from the Faculty of Arts, Mass Communication department. Today, Mariam hopes to work in this same field.

In addition to encouraging Emad and Mariam in their education, their Rep motivated them to participate in the life-skills workshops we offer year-round. They attended workshops on topics such as developing good study habits, emotional intelligence, and the importance of volunteering. Their Rep did not stop there, and also encouraged their mother to participate in two workshops on self-image and teaching volunteerism to her children.

And let’s not forget about this martyr’s youngest daughter, Karmina. After participating in our workshop on positive self-image, she gained a lot of confidence in herself and proudly stated, “I can do everything – and even if I fail, I will try again and will be able to do it!”

*Names changed to protect the privacy and dignity of the children served by Coptic Orphans. 

‘Jesus Makes them Happy’ — Serve to Learn Volunteer Monika Toma from Vienna Austria on Serve to Learn Kids

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Dear Friends,

Applications for the Serve to Learn Jan 21 – Feb 11 trip are due Oct 15. So if you’re thinking about applying, do it soon, because time is running out fast! For those of you who don’t know what Serve to Learn is, allow me to explain it to you. It’s really quite simple. 
Serve to Learn is a three-week service trip for youth from all over the world to teach kids in Upper Egyptian villages through a variety of fun games and activities. See? It’s super simple, just apply, volunteer, and let the kids’ love and faith change you forever.

Speaking of simplicity, this “A picture is worth 1,000 words” blog post by 2016 Serve to Learn Monika Toma from Austria shows you exactly how beautiful the simplicity of the children can be. And how much we have to learn from their pure and simple love for Jesus.

— Nermien

Who’s in this photo?

Two elementary school boys from Mallawi, Egypt.

Where was it taken?

In my classroom.

What’s happening in the photo?

They were both drawing a picture of Jesus during playtime. Both were really focused and trying so hard to get it perfect.

How did you feel when it was taken?

I felt sooo proud and happy because those two used to always want to go out and play football [soccer] outside. Every time we asked what they wanted to do, most of them shouted “Nel3ab koora!” (“We want to play soccer!”). Then towards the end of the second week, these two boys came to me and asked if they could draw a picture of Jesus instead of going outside. My heart was just so full of joy at this sight.

Why do you want to remember this moment?

So that I remind myself of how much more those children teach us than we teach them. Their love for Jesus is just so pure and admirable.

If you could help people understand one thing with this photo, what would it be?

You don’t need a lot to make those kids happy. Jesus makes them happy.


Interested in learning more about Serve to Learn? Check out our page and our video, which gives a snapshot of the program!

If this “a picture is worth a 1,000 words” blog makes you want to read other Serve to Learn stories, here are Pheobe Azer‘s and Ryan Wasson‘s. If that’s not enough, you can read Serve to Learn  interviews with Toni, JohnGabyMinaAndyVeronikaDavidBen, Kirollos, MariamAlex, and Mirelle. You may also enjoy these video interviews with Nadine RoffaellPeter Wassef and Mary Loka.  Any questions you’d like to ask a real human being? Call or email us at 703-641-8910 or at info@copticorphans.org

Good News About the Children’s Achievements in Education!

I’m writing to share good news about the fruits of Coptic Orphans’ work in education for the children. 

In 2015, a record-breaking 69 hard-working Coptic Orphans youths were awarded scholarships.  With your prayers, love, and encouragement, with the children’s bravery, and above all, by God’s grace, here are the 2015 achievements we aim to surpass as the kids head back to school soon:

  • 611 Coptic Orphans youths marked educational milestones: 419 graduated from 12th grade, 41 graduated with an associate degree, and 151 graduated from university.
  • 37 of our youths received Future Leaders (formerly iNPower) scholarships, our “in-house” grants aimed at allowing Coptic Orphans’ highest academic achievers to attend higher-tier institutions including Ain Shams, Cairo University, and Alexandria University.
  • 8 young Coptic Orphans were selected to receive the acclaimed LOTUS scholarship (awarded by the U.S. government to only 50 students in all of Egypt each year).
  • 11 Coptic Orphans won scholarships to government universities.
  • 13 youths earned in-house scholarships to study English.

We are grateful to God for these successes, as we know that all achievements ultimately rest with Him. We also know that these results came about because of the children’s own courage, persistence, and brilliance.

How does Coptic Orphans work, with your support, to boost the children so that they can achieve so much in school?

Fr. Maximos Gadalla is the priest in charge of social work for the diocese of Matay. He was a Rep with Coptic Orphans 2001-2006.

As a Rep, he has particular insight into how we work to secure a quality education for the children. Coptic Orphans Reps — the Church-based servants chosen by their bishop — keep an eye on the kids and their studies, arrange their safe transport to school, as well as tutoring, tuition, and school supplies.

We recently asked Fr. Maximos: “If you knew someone who was thinking about sponsoring a fatherless Coptic child, what would you say?” Here’s how he replied:

Exam grades confirm Fr. Maximos’ words about the children attaining “high educational levels.” By God’s grace, in 2015, nearly 33% of Coptic Orphans youth who took the thanawiyyah amma scored 85% or higher!  

I’d like to tell you about one of these youths, Kyrollos. He joined Coptic Orphans after his father, a laborer, died in 2003.  Kyrollos lives in Minya, in one of Egypt’s poorest areas. Yet he studies constantly in the family’s tiny, old house of mud bricks.

With his Rep’s constant attention, his mother’s love, and his own determination, he scored 96% on the thanawiyyah amma!

Stories like those of Kyrollos are a source of inspiration, because we know that these are difficult times to be a Copt in Egypt. His Holiness has called for an end to the attacks that ravage Coptic communities, and inflation remains a threat to families who are struggling to put food on the table.

Yet, despite these tough times, the kids are not giving up — you can see it in their hard studying and academic excellence.

All of us in the Coptic Orphans family are grateful for their perseverance, and above all, to God!