Tag Archives: Copts

She’s Making Dignity a Family Tradition

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Ireney doesn’t seem to know the meaning of the words “take it easy,” which may explain how she’s built her business into a source of family pride and dignity.

You last heard about Ireney in 2014, when I visited her in Samalout. She overwhelmed me with hospitality then, and things hadn’t changed a bit around her livestock feedstore when I saw her this summer.

Except – that’s not strictly true. Since I last saw Ireney, she’s converted her hard work, intelligence, and B’edaya loans into more progress. She has expanded her line of animal feed, flour, and fertilizer.

There in the cool, cavernous “warehouse” that’s connected to her home, she meets customers and neighbors, closes her deals, and does one more extremely important thing: she passes on her values.

Ireney is very clear: She wants her kids grow up to be hard-working in their lives and occupations. To that end, she’s begin involving her young son in accounting and helping her with the business.

It’s important for her kids to have role models, because they’re already missing one. Ireney’s husband passed away many years ago, so her guidance is all the more crucial.

Together with a specially trained Coptic Orphans volunteer — a Church-based “Rep” who comes recommended by his bishop — she’s putting her children on the path to a quality education and solid values.

Ireney’s success demonstrates what widowed mothers can achieve with access to this type of microcredit initiative. Her goal is to grow the business because “the more I can buy, the more I can sell.”

B’edaya funds these women’s income-generating projects from the ground up until they become self-sufficient. Donations cover all aspects of the loan process from beginning to end, and the money is reinvested over and over to help multiple families.

But beyond this, there is the foundation that’s being laid for a new generation. B’edaya mothers model the behaviors that give their family dignity and their children the keys to success.

To those who’ve never been there, it’s hard to grasp what Ireney is overcoming. In Samalout, and in Upper Egypt in general, traditions severely limit widows. Many end up taking charity for life.

But Ireney is breaking this mold, with your help. Two years from when I last visited her, she’s going strong. Her kids can see it, and you can feel it — in her manner, in her frequent laughter, in the prosperity of her household.

And it’s not only her household. In March, Coptic Orphans held ceremonies around Egypt honoring 42 widowed mothers. They received a total of LE243,500 (US$27,400) in microloans for their income-generating projects.

All of us at Coptic Orphans see these mothers as heroes. By God’s grace, and through your generosity, we’re honored to provide them with both microloans and coaching in entrepreneurial skills to develop their inborn perseverance, ingenuity, and business-savvy.

This is a great blessing to be part of, and the Coptic Orphans family is grateful that you’ve chosen walk with families like Ireney’s.

* The name of the B’edaya participant has been changed in this instance to protect her privacy

‘Never Underestimate the Genuine Power of Love and Kindness’ — Gina Masoud Reflects on Serve to Learn Experience

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Dear Friends,

As this summer comes to an end, I’m moved to share with you a story from Serve to Learn 2016 volunteer Gina Masoud. This story is part of the “A picture is worth 1000 words” series where we ask volunteers to pick an image from their trip that represents a powerful moment, and to share why it’s important. Gina chose to tell a story about the power of love and kindness, and that’s a story to get us through the winter. 

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. The next Serve to Learn trip will be Jan. 21-Feb. 11, 2017. Applications for this trip are due October 15.

— Nermien

Who’s in this photo?

Myself, Julie, Mina, Lydia, Miryam and Merna,  and a child’s sister, Ereny.

Where was it taken?

In Ereny’s home during a home visit.

What’s happening in the photo?

We were originally going to visit another girl, Youstina, who was in my high school class. When we walked in, we saw that she had a sister who had suffered from bad burns to her face. She didn’t want to come sit in the same room as us, even though she wanted to. She stood by the doorway to the living room. The group quickly realized we were there for her. We gave her the most attention. We showed her love and said words to her I’m sure she hadn’t heard since the accident. By the end of the visit, which was only 45 minutes, she had changed from the girl who wouldn’t sit with us, to the one who waved to our bus as we were driving away. She spent the rest of the visit with the group and enjoyed herself.

How did you feel when it was taken?

So happy. In a few minutes, with a few kids, a few words, and a lot of hugs, we changed how a person felt about themselves.

Why do you want to remember this moment?

To remind myself that even though it may seem like the effects of our actions are a single drop in the ocean, that drop was an entire ocean for one person.

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

Never underestimate the genuine power of love and kindness.


*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 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!