Category Archives: Serve To Learn

‘His Light Is In These Children’s Smiles’ — Jessica Ayob Recalls Serve to Learn

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Jessica Ayob and some of the Serve to Learn students she taught.

Dear Friends,

Sometimes people ask me, “I’m very busy with work but I’d love to serve in Egypt, can I just do one week of Serve to Learn?” I always disappoint these people  and answer no. But let me explain, this isn’t just bureaucratic, it’s about the relational nature of Serve to Learn. Yes, Serve to Learn brings volunteers from all over the world to Egypt for three weeks to teach basic English, and that has real value for children who’ve never been taught by a native speaker. However, Serve to Learn is also about the relationships among people who live together, have tea together,  laugh together, and are there for each other. In Serve to Learn, you’re there to spend enough time with the kids in Egypt that they keep a piece of your heart. Read this interview with Serve to Learn volunteer Jessica Ayob and you’ll understand.  

So — are you ready for the adventure of a lifetime? Applications for the June 18-July 9 trip are available online here and are due by April 1 (March 15 to take part in the brand new medical initiativeapply here). Apply now, because slots are limited!

— Nermien 

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For you, what was the most moving or life-changing part of Serve to Learn?

The most torturous part of the trip was saying goodbye to my kids. When they said “please don’t forget me” it tore my heart into pieces.

Did Serve to Learn deepen your understanding of Egypt, your ancestry, and your roots? 

I now have a deeper understanding not only of Egypt, but the people of Egypt. Never will you meet people who are so welcoming and loving to the “aghaneb.” It makes you want to be like them and show them off as the most amazing people you’ve ever met. No matter the little money they have or how small their house is, they will be the most giving people.

Given the chance, what would you have done more of during the program?

On the last day we played real soccer in the dirt, with rocks and no shoes on, and it was GREAT! They have a real passion for soccer and they are soooooo amazingly talented!

What advice would you give anyone considering applying for Serve to Learn?

GO. APPLY. RIGHT. NOW.  I’m so glad God brought me for whatever his plan may be for me. These kids will make you cry, will give you hope, will drive you insane, and ultimately will love you like no one has ever loved you before on Earth. His light is in these children’s smiles and you could feel it every second you are with them.

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

If this blog makes you want to read other Serve to Learn stories, here are those of Marianne SawiresJessica HannaJessica AyobPheobe, and Ryan. If that’s not enough, you can read Serve to Learn  interviews with:

 ToniJohnGabyMinaAndyVeronikaDavidBen, Kirollos, MariamAlex, and Mirelle.

You may also enjoy these video interviews with NadinePeter and Mary.  Any questions you’d like to ask a real human being? Call or email Mira Fouad, who runs Serve to Learn, at 703-641-8910 or at mfouad@copticorphans.org

Welcoming the New Year, with Thanks to God & Our Supporters for 2015 Achievements

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His Holiness Pope Tawadros II meets with Serve to Learn volunteers, July 25, 2015.

Dear Friends,

Looking back at 2015, which had the children’s many academic successes, our meeting with His Holiness, the anniversary gala in Cairo, and a conference of nearly 500 Church-based volunteers, I can only express deep gratitude to God for making everything possible.

As together we step into 2016, I’m reminded of these words I love: “Let us give thanks to the beneficent and merciful God, the Father of our Lord, God, and Savior, Jesus Christ, for He has covered us, helped us, guarded us, accepted us unto Him, spared us, supported us, and brought us to this hour.” 

We also owe so much to our supporters worldwide for enabling these remarkable steps forward, especially by ensuring access to quality education for thousands of children. We’re deeply grateful to everyone who’s made a commitment to the academic success of these brilliant, heroic kids.

As we close out 2015, Coptic Orphan has reached over 40,000 children in Egypt since 1988. Here are some of the ways your love, prayers, and support made an impact this year:

• Almost 25% of Coptic Orphans youth, who come from some of Egypt’s most poverty-stricken communities, earned senawiyyah 3amma (high school final exam) grades of 85% or higher.

• Children enrolled in Coptic Orphans programs were more than three times more likely to complete their secondary education than their average Egyptian peers.

• For the second year running, 10 Coptic Orphans children beat tremendous odds to win prestigious LOTUS and AMIDEAST scholarships to Egypt’s best universities such as the AUC and the British University.

These academic achievements of Coptic Orphans children would not be possible without the Church. We’re incredibly grateful to the Church for partnering with us in 55 dioceses across Egypt.

We felt especially blessed in 2015, because His Holiness Pope Tawadros II met with the volunteers in our Serve to Learn program on July 25, telling them of the value of their service for the children and for Egypt. We’re thankful beyond words for His Holiness’ inspiration and leadership.

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A pair of the hundreds of kids the 2015 Serve to Learn volunteers were blessed to form bonds with and teach.

Overall, in 2015, 37 Serve to Learn volunteers from around the world traveled to Egypt for three weeks of serving, teaching, and forming close bonds with children in communities such as Armant, Luxor, and El Barsha, Mallawi.

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Nearly 500 Church-based volunteer ‘Reps’ meet in August 2015 to discuss serving the children and receive intensive training.

Another key step forward in 2015 was the conference of nearly 500 Church-based volunteer “Reps,” the backbone of Coptic Orphans’ work with the children. The highlight of the August event in Hurghada was intensive training in how to build rapport with the children served by Coptic Orphans.

Coptic Orphans capped the year on Oct. 11 with a silver anniversary gala celebrating 25 years of serving God and the children. Among the speakers and honored guests at the Cairo event were Deputy Minister of the Cairo Governorate Gihan Abdel Rahman Ahmed, former Minister of Urban Development Dr. Laila Iskander, and Dr. Raouf Ghabbour.

At the event, which was attended by over 150 guests, Coptic Orphans presented its Leading by Example Award to Eng. Hossam El Kabbany, chairman of the Al Orman Association, to honor his tireless work to improve the lives of Egypt’s most vulnerable citizens. The award honors people whose character and achievements make them role models in Egypt and around the world. Past recipients include Dr. Farouk El Baz, His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, and Ola Ghabbour, founder of the Children’s Cancer Hospital.

With God’s grace, we’re looking forward to a fantastic 2016 that builds on these achievements and brings better lives to even more children. And as we finish a wonderful 2015, I want to say to everyone in the Coptic Orphans family: “Thank you, and may you have a blessed and Happy New Year!”

Egypt’s People ‘Taught Me the Definition of Gratefulness’ — Magy Mekhail Reflects on Serve to Learn

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Magy Mekhail takes a perfect selfie with her class and Abouna Maximos.

Dear Friends,
I’ve traveled all over Egypt, but every time I visit an Upper Egyptian village I’m still amazed at the simplicity, generosity, and hospitality I find there. So in the interview below, when Serve to Learn volunteer Magy Mekhail says she learned the “definition of gratefulness” from the people of Matay in Upper Egypt, I believe her. Serve to Learn is a three-week service trip in Egypt where you teach, play, and love the world’s greatest kids! Come to Egypt and find out what these kids can teach you. Applications for the Jan. 22 – Feb. 13 trip are being accepted until Nov. 15.
— Nermien

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For you, what was the most moving or life-changing part of Serve to Learn?

How grateful people are. In the midst of all their hardships and struggles they are so thankful and hospitable. They just want to invite us in and feed us because they are so happy we visited — they taught me the definition of gratefulness.

Did Serve to Learn deepen your understanding of Egypt and your roots? 

Yes, I understood the culture better, why people act a certain way. It just added to my Coptic pride :)

Given the chance, what would you have done more of during the program?

I would have done more home visits and visited my kids (from my class) more than once.

What advice would you give anyone considering applying for Serve to Learn?

Talk with your partner and plan materials ahead of time. Don’t worry about accommodations or comfort or whatever because all that doesn’t matter when you are with your kids.

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

If this blog makes you want to read other Serve to Learn stories, here are those of Marianne SawiresJessica HannaJessica AyobPheobe, and Ryan. If that’s not enough, you can read Serve to Learn  interviews with ToniJohnGabyMinaAndyVeronikaDavidBen, Kirollos, MariamAlex, and MirelleYou may also enjoy these video interviews with NadinePeter, and Mary.  

Any questions you’d like to ask a real human being? Call or email Mira Fouad, who runs Serve to Learn, at 703-641-8910 or at mfouad@copticorphans.org