‘I Feel Blessed to Have Had That Experience’ — Mary Helmy Reflects on Serve to Learn

Mary Helmy spending time with her students as the van takes them home after a day of learning and play.

Dear Friends,

It’s the start of March, and I’m  excited to be reading through the applications of wonderful prospective Serve to Learn volunteers. Because demand for Serve to Learn has grown, there will be two trips in the upcoming months: June 17 – July 8 AND July 22 – August 12. Applications are due by March 15. There’s nothing more heartening to me than to see young Coptic youth from all over the world deciding to spend part of their summer, or even taking time off from work, to travel to Egypt for a full 3 weeks, to serve orphaned Coptic children in Egypt.  If you’re wanting a taste of what you’ll learn on Serve to Learn, here’s recent volunteer Mary Helmy from Australia, with another “a picture is worth a 1,000 words” blog post. 

— Nermien

Who’s in this photo?

The kids and me.

Where was it taken?

The children had just finished our class and were going back home in a van.

What’s happening in the photo?

I was saying goodbye and they asked me to come back with them. I hopped in and spent a few minutes hanging out with them.

How did you feel when it was taken?

I felt like a kid hanging out with my friends enjoying every moment with them. They were so excited and full of joy and laughter. I didn’t want to say goodbye.

Why do you want to remember this moment?

Despite losing a parent, or both parents, and all the difficulties of that, the children were just enjoying being kids, having fun, full of hope. I felt close to them.

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

It’s not really about teaching English or the classroom, it’s about getting to really know the children, laughing with them, having fun, learning to let go and be a kid again. Despite all their hardships in life, they loved openly, not just me, but God. I grew to love them as well. I really wanted to go back to their homes and hang out and play with them. I feel blessed to have had that experience. One of many, many memories I’ll treasure. Thank you God.

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 Joyce Lancen at 703-641-8910 or at info@copticorphans.org

‘Love Always Wins’ — Nancy Gwany on Serving the Children in Egypt

Dear Friends,

Sometimes our most important realization can come from the simplest of gestures. This blog post on the theme of “a picture is worth 1,000 words” from 2016 Serve to Learn volunteer Nancy Gwany tells about a simple moment spent with the world’s greatest kids, and a profound realization about God’s love for us. 

Serve to Learn is a three-week service trip for youth from all over the world to teach kids in Egyptian villages through a variety of fun games and activities. This summer, there are TWO trips: June 17-July 8 and July 22-Aug 12. Each trip will have both English education sites and health education sites. 

— Nermien

Who’s in this photo?

Some kids from my class and one of the kids from the younger class.

Where was it taken?

The picture was taken in my classroom after the last session. We were just hanging out.

What’s happening in the photo?

I was telling the kids in my class how they were driving me crazy because they keep talking. The younger kid was pinching my cheeks like he always did. They then asked to take a picture of them driving me crazy.

How did you feel when it was taken?

I felt unconditional love. No matter how much these kids misbehaved in class, I still loved them. Nothing they do can change that.

Why do you want to remember this moment?

I want to remember that’s how God loves me. That love I felt for these kids is nothing compared to how much God loves me unconditionally.

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

Love always wins. I could count all the times the kids would drive me crazy and literally make me want to pull my hair out. But at the end of the day, I’m there to love them and love always wins.

*Names of our children are changed in order to maintain their privacy.

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 Joyce Lancen at 703-641-8910 or at info@copticorphans.org

What Does ‘Save the Copts’ Mean?

 

What will remain of our Coptic culture and community in Egypt in 100 years?

Can our brothers and sisters in Christ there possibly thrive if we don’t stand with them?

After the bombing of St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church, one of my colleagues told us — voice shaking with emotion — how a young woman he knows was killed that day.

She was a doctor. She was holding down a shift at the hospital for her Muslim colleagues, so they could celebrate their holiday with their families.

She went on break to pray at the church near the hospital, and never went home to her own family for Christmas.

As Copts, we know that atrocities like the one at St. Peter and St. Paul’s never take our brothers and sisters. On the contrary, we gain a martyr who is with us forever in the Body of Christ.

But what has Egypt lost? Another committed healer who was there for her fellow Egyptians and their families.

And our Coptic community has lost. Too often, these murders take our most wonderful, talented, loving members, leaving our brothers and sisters struggling to fill the gap.

Attacks like the one on St. Peter and St. Paul’s are therefore a way for the terrorists to send a chilling message: “There is no place for you Copts in Egypt.” They target not just innocent people, but our shared Coptic identity.

So if we care, the question we face is simple: “How can we, the Coptic Diaspora, use our success and God’s gifts to strengthen the Coptic identity and community in Egypt?”

Everywhere in Egypt, there is more that we in the diaspora can do. There are proud, capable people whose hands are extended — not for alms, but to join hands in solidarity, as One Body in Christ.

Furthermore, our responsibility doesn’t end with alleviating immediate suffering. We must take responsibility for how far the Copts have been marginalized and thus hatred was free to spread.

We must support groups that promote the Coptic identity and follow God’s command to serve all. We’re proud to be Copts and, as Martin Luther King said, “We will wear them down with our love.”

The best rebuke to Daesh is to show that, more than just paying lip service to the lives of Copts, we’re not going to stand by while children die of the effects of discrimination, of hate.

There are many organizations, many projects, through which to heal and protect the families of our Coptic brothers and sisters. To save the Copts.

So this Christmas, the next simple question is: What are you going to do?