Category Archives: Serve To Learn

‘We Need to Do Our Bit to Give Them the Opportunities They Lack’ — Jessica Hanna Talks About Serve to Learn’s Children

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Dear Friends,
This summer I traveled around Egypt asking our kids “What would you like to be when you grow up?” “Doctor! Engineer! Pharmacist!”  were their answers everywhere I went. Our kids are smart, and they work hard to do well at school — in fact, this “a picture is worth 1,000 words” blog post from Jessica Hanna, one of our Serve to Learn participants, shows just how far some kids are willing to go to learn. Come to Egypt in January 2016 for the next Serve to Learn and spend three weeks playing with, serving, and teaching some of the world’s greatest kids!
— Nermien

Who’s in this photo?

This photo shows two of the Serve to Learn students sitting in the empty classroom in Tema during the July 2015 Serve to Learn session.

Where was it taken?

My classroom in Tema.

What’s happening in the photo?

These two children arrived after the class had finished. I asked them where they were and they told me they had missed the bus and took mewaslat (public transportation) 1-3 hours to the monastery just for class.

How did you feel when it was taken?

I was in awe of the efforts of these children to just come to a class that runs for less than an hour. And I was determined to make their efforts worthwhile—to make the most of the their time.

Why do you want to remember this moment?

It makes me appreciate all the opportunities for education that I’ve been blessed with.

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

These children have the ability, aptitude, and willingness to learn. They are doing so much to do their part. We need to do our bit to give them the opportunities they lack.

Interested in learning more about Serve to Learn? Check out our page and 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 Jessica Ayob’sPheobe Azer‘s and Ryan Wasson‘s. 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 Nadine RoffaellPeter Wassef and Mary Loka.  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

‘We Don’t Need Fancy Shoes or Phones…’ — Jessica Ayob Reflects on Serve to Learn

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Dear Friends,

A few weeks ago, 25 Serve to Learn volunteers from five different countries came together in Egypt for three weeks to serve, teach, and play with the world’s greatest kids! A lot of things happened during those three weeks… including an epic water fight in a village called El Barsha… but I’d rather let Jessica Ayob — one of the volunteers — tell you what happened that day and what she ended up learning.

— Nermien

Who’s in this photo?

Volunteers from Serve to Learn, some people from the Coptic Orphans office, and a bunch of my kids.

Where was it taken?

This was taken right in front of our classrooms.

What’s happening in the photo?

We had just finished a massive water fight. The kids had no mercy on us and we were completely drenched, water bottles, hoses, and buckets all came out! Kids were running around everywhere pouring tons of water on each other. Never had I seen such a chaotic scene of all the kids smiling and laughing so hard because water was poured on them. After we finally got them to stop, we went upstairs because there was no possible way “Teta” Mina (the local coordinator) was going to let us walk back home drenched. The kids followed and as the picture was taken we all yelled out “Jamoooosaaa” (cow). I think they make fun of me because of how I pronounce it, but whatever makes them happy :)

How did you feel when it was taken?

For some reason, I felt so proud of them. No matter what happens to them or what they’re going through, God’s light shines so brightly through them.

Why do you want to remember this moment?

I need to remember this picture because I have to remind myself of the simple little things that make the world go round.

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

We don’t need fancy shoes or phones. We just need a couple of crazy kids yelling out “cow” to be happy.

Interested in learning more about Serve to Learn? Check out our page and our new 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 ToniJohnGabyMinaAndyVeronikaDavidBen, 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 Mira Fouad, who runs Serve to Learn, at 703-641-8910 or at mfouad@copticorphans.org

Education, Education, Education — That’s the Key

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The girls and young women of the Valuable Girl Project site in Matay meet volunteers with the Serve to Learn program.

It’s a muggy day in Matay, but no one hesitates to hug and crowd together for a photo. Here in Middle Egypt, girls and young women are used to the heat. It’s just another challenge for these participants in the Valuable Girl Project, like coping with run-down schools, making ends meet in a tough economy, and making their voices heard in a male-run society.

Only a few of these challenges are familiar to today‘s visitors to this Valuable Girl site they’re volunteers from abroad, here in Egypt to take part in Coptic Orphans’ Serve to Learn program. They‘re spending three weeks teaching English to kids in Matay, and they may have gotten used to sweltering heat. But because they’re from places where the schools are more functional, the economy more developed, and patriarchy less pronounced, it’s harder to familiarize them with what it’s like to be a girl in Egypt.

Nevertheless, the two project coordinators, Sawsan and Doaa, do their best. There are smiles on both sides as their description unfolds of the Valuable Girl Project. In Port Said, Matay, Armant, Sohag and Luxor, the volunteers learn, 142 Little Sisters and 142 Big Sisters meet twice a week. The older sister mentors the younger one in schoolwork and life skills; the coordinators teach them the value of teamwork, creativity, planning, and accepting others. Many times, the Big-Little Sister relationships are Christian-Muslim, offering an important bridge between people whose paths might not otherwise cross.

The Valuable Girl Project participants, in turn, find out what brings this gaggle of foreigners to Egypt. They hear how the volunteers are lured from around the world by the chance to see the real Egypt, form close relationships with Egyptian children, and be transformed by their love. They learn how the volunteers are inspired by the kids, even as they teach a love of learning with fun educational activities.

The most interesting thing about today’s encounter is how it reflects the fruition of three projects. The Serve to Learn volunteers have also been meeting the mothers of the fatherless children served by Coptic Orphans. It’s precisely because of those mothers that the Valuable Girl Project exists.

The story is this: The more Coptic Orphans staff got engaged with the orphans’ families, the more they began to see a really striking trend. Mothers were dying — denying themselves medical care — because they felt valueless and were using what little money they had to meet their children’s needs. But of course, a healthy child requires a healthy mother. Stopping this destructive cycle seemed desperately important, so a decade ago the Valuable Girl Project was founded.

Since that time, the Valuable Girl Project has been working with girls to ensure they stay in school, believe in themselves, and become healthy mothers.

So now the Serve to Learn volunteers have the full story: from the fatherless children they’ve met, to their mothers, to the young women that the Valuable Girl Project aspires to put on a different path. It’s a path that’s heavy on studying, and soon the girls head back inside to continue learning together. Meanwhile, the volunteers are back on the road to the school where they teach their kids. Education, education, education — that’s the key.