Tag Archives: education

What Do Moms Want? This Mother’s Day, It’s Valuable Daughters

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The Valuable Girl Project’s effects reach beyond the girls to their families.

“Can we do anything to make sure the Valuable Girl Project continues?” a group of mothers recently asked us.

The mothers, whose daughters take part in Big Sister-Little Sister mentoring at our site in Sohag, said they’d seen remarkable changes in their girls. They wanted to help keep those changes going.

For Egypt, which doesn’t have (to put it politely) the strongest traditions of women’s empowerment or civil society, this was something striking. The mothers’ offer to help also highlighted something that we don’t talk about much — the wider effects of the Valuable Girl Project.

Most of what we describe to supporters is the project’s core: Meeting young women’s needs for education and skills, nurturing their sense of self-worth, encouraging them to steer clear of harmful traditions such as FGM and early marriage, and offering them safe spaces to interact in an atmosphere of religious tolerance.

But the project’s effects radiate outwards beyond the girls, and no one feels the benefits more strongly than mothers.

For example, we regularly survey participants, who range in age from 7 to 22. Nearly all report that their lives have changed because of the project, citing a greater belief in their own sense of responsibility, discipline, punctuality, self-confidence, and study skills.

What mother doesn’t want her daughter to become more responsible, confident, self-disciplined, and studious? It’s traits like these that the mothers in Sohag said they were noticing in their daughters.

But as important as these personal traits and skills are, the project also has tangible benefits for each family’s bottom line.

For example, any mother who’s struggled with bureaucracy knows the value of having paperwork in order. In places like Egypt, a lack of this stamp or that document can create immovable roadblocks to basic rights and government services. And too often, poverty, discrimination, and other obstacles prevent “our” girls from obtaining a government identity card.

The Valuable Girl Project educates and advocates for young women as they navigate Egypt’s maze of red tape. By the end of their first year of participating in the project, nearly 30% more “Big Sisters” have government identity cards — the key to unlocking significant rights and services.

In other words, mothers of Valuable Girl Project participants can see their daughters grow in maturity, confidence, and skills, while making progress in securing their rights and resources.

That’s a combination of benefits that’s hard to come by in Egyptian society, and one we’re excited to provide through the Valuable Girl Project. And, with Mother’s Day fast approaching, it’s worth remembering that these valuable girls are also valuable daughters.

We salute the strong mothers of our participants, and we’re grateful for their offer to help the Valuable Girl Project keep building and succeeding!

Easter Rebirth in Egypt

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When darkness falls, as it did in Libya, I’m amazed at how God sends reminders of His love.

This Easter, I’m reminded of that love by the story of Verena, a mother so depressed she was ready to end her life — and yet, she found a new beginning.

Verena began suffering from sadness when her husband died, leaving her alone with a debt of 25,000 Egyptian pounds (US$3,000) and two children to feed.

She slipped deeper into depression when the bank took over her small monthly widow’s pension, and still further when other creditors hauled away her furniture.

Verena was completely exhausted when Shenouda, one of our Church-based volunteer Reps, showed up at her door in El Marg. She asked him to look after her children, saying she no longer wanted to live.

Rep Shenouda got to work right away. In a sense, he took over the family, starting with the children’s needs. Once he was sure that basic necessities such as food were covered, he focused on education.

Verena’s children had been out of school for some time, because their mother was so filled with despair that she hadn’t managed to get them enrolled. Dropping out had created a huge obstacle in their path.

Shenouda not only gathered and organized the documentation required for Verena’s children to enroll, he also provided them with private tutoring so they could catch up on lessons they had missed.

The dedication, love, and care that Shenouda showed to the children brought back Verena’s hope and rekindled her devotion to her family’s future. “With Coptic Orphans, I was reborn,” she told us.

The bottom line is, this is what your support is making possible: People like Shenouda, serving in their own community, caring for children they really know — and acting out of their faith in God.

Verena’s story shows what we can achieve when we care for each other as One Body in Christ. This Feast of the Resurrection, thank you for being our partner in this story of rebirth.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3

 

* Names changed to protect the privacy and dignity of the children and their families.

Win a Free Trip to Egypt!

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Serve to Learn is a chance to build personal relationships of love with children in Egypt!

I’ve just received great news: Through the grace of God, two generous donors are offering to send a pair of volunteers on our Serve to Learn trip to Egypt — for free!

These donors have agreed to cover the program fee and airfare for two volunteers to take part in the July 3-25 session of Serve to Learn, our unique initiative to connect volunteers from around the world to Egypt.

To qualify for this opportunity, you’ll need to do two things. First, submit an application for Serve to Learn by the April 15 deadline. Second, enter our essay contest about strengthening and preserving our Coptic identity (details below)!

Free trip or no free trip, if you take part in Serve to Learn, you can count on having a life-changing experience serving God’s children! Here’s how your three weeks in Egypt will look:

  • First, you’ll see the real Egypt, because you’ll stay in a village along the Nile — Manfalout, Matay, Gerga, Abnoub, Tema, or Barsha — and live among the people.
  • Second, you’ll have the area’s bishop on your side — he’ll provide you with hospitality and watch out for your safety.
  • Third, you’ll make a difference in the lives of kids in the diocese by teaching them basic English skills through fun, interactive games and activities.
  • Fourth, and most importantly, you’ll visit the children at home, learn about their lives, and build deep, loving relationships with them.

Serve to Learn is also an opportunity to connect more deeply with the Church. Last year, the volunteers were also blessed to be called to a special meeting with His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, and they received a spiritual orientation from Abouna Dawood Lamey.

Are you ready for this life-changing experience in Egypt? Returning volunteers say Serve to Learn really transforms the way they look at the world. Join Serve to Learn, and you’ll come home changed in ways you could never predict.

But remember, the April 15 deadline is coming fast, so apply now, because spots are limited!

Essay Contest Rules:

To qualify to win one of these two free trips you must:

  • Be of Coptic ancestry
  • Apply for the July 2015 Serve to Learn trip by April 15
  • Submit the essay on Coptic heritage to mfouad@copticorphans.org by May 1, 2015

Please write a 1,500-2,000 word essay answering the following:

The Coptic identity developed in an environment of persecution which nurtured a unique and tenacious Christian faith. For millennia, Copts have been able to maintain their identity and faith in spite of those hardships. Why is preserving our Coptic heritage so important? Where do you see your role in preserving that unique identity?

PS: Want to hear more from people who’ve been part of Serve to Learn? Check out the reflections of two people who served this January, Peter Wassef and Mary Loka:

           

You can hear His Holiness speak on the importance of serving in Egypt in this video, which gives a snapshot of the whole Serve to Learn experience: