Two Blankets in Wintertime (Are Not the Most Wondrous Thing)

Hairdressing
Keeping her children warm is not the only thing that Salma’s been able to change since starting her business.

Imagine the sense accomplishment you’d feel at being able to buy blankets for your children when before they’d shivered on chilly nights. Furthermore, imagine being able to buy your kids a new mattress to keep them off the cold tiled floor of your home.

That’s the sense of accomplishment that Salma has — and she’s a widow who’s never before experienced economic empowerment.

Salma, a mother of two young children, lost her husband eight years ago in a traffic accident. Her troubles were compounded by health problems.

I met Salma in the Upper Egyptian city of Sohag, where up until recently, she and her family endured the brief but chilly winter nights as best they could. Her sense of what she had to put up with in life, though, has changed since six years ago. That’s when she got involved with B’edaya.

Using a small loan provided by the project, she started a hairdressing business in her home. B’edaya allowed her to develop her enterprise by buying modern equipment. With that boost, she went from having to travel to her clients, to having them come to her house for appointments.

“The equipment is what attracts the ladies to come to me,” she told me, showing off the neat wooden shelves where she stacks her hair dryer, combs, and hair care supplies.

“Salma is very wise in how she manages the profits from her business,” said Susan, the Coptic Orphans staff member who oversees Salma’s loan. Indeed, the money from styling her neighbors’ hair has purchased the new mattress and blankets that keep Salma’s kids warm at night.

This is all part of the B’edaya strategy, which emphasizes empowerment over handouts. For all of the widows who take out loans, the capital and the income it helps generate are good things. But the loan is only a catalyst — a means for Salma to harness her inner drive and latent abilities, and in the process, be transformed.

It’s especially important to focus on transformation in the society where Salma is from, because traditions about widowhood in Upper Egypt are piled on top of other patriarchal constraints. The end result is that widows are often house-bound and kept helpless. To see a widow in this situation evolve into a businesswoman, therefore, is quite extraordinary. The blankets and mattress, in this context, are the smallest wonders I can see in Salma’s home.

As is proper, B’edaya can’t take credit for this transformation. That credit goes to Salma herself. And that’s how it should be.

*Name changed to protect the privacy of B’edaya participant.

By God’s Grace, We’re Growing and Hiring

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The Coptic Orphans team in Egypt.

Do you love children? Are you passionate about making a difference? Join a team that’s been working for more than 25 years to improve the lives of the children of Egypt!

We’re grateful beyond words that last fall, His Holiness Pope Tawadros II came to our 25th Anniversary Gala in Canada and told us: “Bravo for your service. And I’m not sure who’s happier — you, or the children you serve.”

By God’s grace, we’re growing and accepting applications from skilled, professional candidates in order to fill several posts. Below are the positions for which we are actively recruiting:

United States 

Donor Relations Director – Fairfax, VA
Human Resources Manager – Fairfax, VA
Human Resources Associate- Fairfax, VA

Egypt

Human Resources Manager – Cairo
Area Program Manager – Upper Egypt
Operations Director – Cairo
Translator- Cairo
Field Coordinator – Middle Egypt, Lower Egypt
Programs Director – Cairo

For a full list of our positions, please see our jobs page.

If you are committed to making a difference in the lives of the children of Egypt, you may be a good fit for the Coptic Orphans team. If a friend, colleague, or family member has the right skills and passion for one of these positions, please forward them this blog post or share this link with them through Facebook.

Thank you, and may the approaching Christmas season bring your family blessings and joy!

Coptic Orphans Welcomes Dr. Neveen Waheeb

waheeb profile
Dr. Neveen Waheeb’s expertise will enrich Coptic Orphans’ work with the children.

I am pleased to announce that Dr. Neveen Waheeb joined Coptic Orphans in August. Dr. Waheeb’s expertise in educational psychology adds depth to our team. In her new post, she will be in charge of capacity-building for our already strong field staff.

Dr. Waheeb’s vast experience in researching and working with Egypt’s vulnerable children is particularly relevant to Coptic Orphans’ work. Her specialized training in parent-child counseling will strengthen our capacity to train our staff and more than 450 Church-based volunteers in effective interventions at the family level. She also brings to the table valuable knowledge of how to deal with child abuse, and a research-based understanding of the effects of violence on children.

Dr. Waheeb’s past experience spans an important cross-section of Egypt’s non-profit community, including the St. Markarious Foundation, St. Augustine Educational, and the Alliance of Arab Women. Her arrival at Coptic Orphans widens the ever-growing circle of non-governmental organizations with whom we have connections.

We’re very proud to welcome Dr. Waheeb to the Coptic Orphans Program Department. Her Ph.D. in the psychology of education is directly relevant to Coptic Orphans’ mission to empower children to break the cycle of poverty through education.

We look forward to Dr. Waheeb’s expertise enriching our work with the children, enabling us to strengthen programs and better train staff and volunteers to connect with and serve vulnerable children.