Tag Archives: education

Did You Know? Simply by Shopping at Amazon This Christmas, You Can Help Egypt’s Children Break Free of Poverty!

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Dear Friend,

Will you be using Amazon or other online retailers this Christmas? If you are, there’s an easy way you can make every purchase into a life-changing gift for orphans in Egypt.

Here’s how you can do it. Many online retailers will donate to the nonprofit of your choice just for shopping on their site. It’s free. All you have to do is choose which nonprofit your donation will go to. This year, you can choose Coptic Orphans, so that your Christmas generosity is transformed into quality education, health care, and many other benefits that help children grow up stronger and break the cycle of poverty.

Many online retailers offer this gift-giving, and each one is a little different. To make it easier, I’m listing a couple of the larger ones, so that your Christmas cheer reaches all the way to Egypt!

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Amazon Smile is simple. Every time you buy an item using smile.amazon.com, .5% of your purchase goes to a pre-selected nonprofit organization . You don’t have to pay a single extra penny. On your first visit to AmazonSmile, you will be prompted to select a charitable organization from a list of eligible organizations, search for Coptic Orphans and you’re good to go. But remember, this only works if you use smile.amazon.com, so add it to your favorites list!

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Love coupons? Try GoodShop.  It has coupons for thousands of different online stores, so it saves you money. And not only that, every time you buy something through GoodShop, they make a donation to a charity of your choice ! Save money AND change the lives of children in Egypt, what could be better?

Here’s how to use GoodShop:

1. Visit goodsearch.com, and go to the “How It Works” tab on the upper right of the page.
2. Select “Support a Cause” in the drop down menu.
3. Type “Coptic Orphans” when asked “Who Do You Want to Help?”
4. Register and create a user profile that allows you to track how much you’ve raised for the kids.
5. Use the GoodShop tab at the top of the homepage or go to GoodShop to visit their online shopping mall and browse through thousands of partner stores, including top brands in clothing, office supplies, gifts and more.
6. Click through to the store and shop as you normally would. You pay nothing extra, but a portion of all qualifying purchases will go to your cause.
7. 100% of the donation amount displayed on merchant’s GoodShop page will go to Coptic Orphans for the children.

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I’m just adding this one in because it’s a favorite of ours at the Coptic Orphans office. GoodSearch.com isn’t quite like the rest of these give-as-you-buy websites… it’s even cooler. GoodSearch is a search engine that donates 1¢ every time you search for something online. All Coptic Orphans staff members have been using GoodSearch and we’ve already earned enough to enroll one more child into our program for an entire year! It’s great to see the pennies add up into life-changing opportunities for our kids! Here’s how to make GoodSearch your search engine, and generate money for the kids with every search:

1. Visit www.goodsearch.com and — again, under the “How It Works” tab, and the drop down menu’s “Support a Cause” item — enter “Coptic Orphans” when asked who you want to support.
2. Create a user profile that will allow you to keep track of how much you’ve raised for the kids.
3. Use the search box on our homepage or download a Good To-Go add-on to search the Internet just like you normally would, with the added bonus that you are earning a donation to the children for virtually every search.

Giving Girls Education and Respect: It Works

The Valuable Girl Project creates a safe space for learning.
The Valuable Girl Project creates a safe space for learning.

This time last year, I wouldn’t have expected to be able to deliver an update like this one on the Valuable Girl Project. But here it is:

Not only did Samia get excellent grades, but her Big Sisters improved the literacy rates in her hometown!

You may remember Samia from my blog post “Breaking the Cycle” last November. She’s the kid who entered the Valuable Girl Project with a chip on her shoulder — cursing, stealing, and hitting the other girls.

The project’s Big Sister-Little Sister model, which creates one-to-one mentoring relationships, seemed to do Samia a world of good. She stopped hitting people, learned social skills, and started making friends.

Samia’s transformation, which I mentioned last fall, reached another milestone this summer. During my visit, one of the project coordinators handed me Samia’s report card, which she’d proudly shared with her role models.

“EXCELLENT” grades in Arabic, math, and science!

When I saw those grades, I wondered if Samia’s father knew about this huge achievement. Her dad is behind bars for life, more or less.  Would he be proud that Samia is making progress toward escaping his generation’s cycle of violence and poverty?

Seeing Samia’s grades confirmed for me, once again, that kids from the poorest households (even those where they’re more likely to be hit than hugged) can be transformed by education, love, and respect.

But girls can’t flourish in a community that’s crumbling. That’s why the Valuable Girl Project also aims to be a resource to the cities and villages where it operates.

It’s a good start to provide, as the project does, a safe space for the Big Sisters and Little Sisters to learn together, particularly when the pairs are Christians and Muslims.

But to really have an impact, other effects have to ripple outward from the project’s five sites in Upper and Lower Egypt. This summer, I found out about an exciting way that this aspiration became a reality.

Here’s what happened: The community development association that hosts Samia’s site discovered that many students in the area couldn’t read or write, despite being enrolled in school. In response, they organized a special training program in literacy tutoring skills.

The association approached the project’s Big Sisters, and 18 of them participated in the training. Next, the girls volunteered in a local literacy initiative. Together, they taught reading and writing to 200 kids! A pre- and post- evaluation of the children’s reading skills showed an average improvement of 60%.

It felt good to hear this, knowing that literacy has a huge positive impact on a child’s life chances. Not only that, but the Valuable Girl Project had benefited not just one girl, Samia, but an entire community.

I love that the Valuable Girl Project’s effects are beginning to radiate outward, from individual lives to communities. That’s the power of education and respect. When we give them to girls, they shine!

Here’s another post about these girls and their site: Girls, Tolerance, Pyramids (And Other Wonders of the World)Stay tuned to learn more about the Valuable Girl Project by subscribing to this blog! More updates coming soon.

* Names and identifying details in story are changed to protect the privacy of the young women in the Valuable Girl Project.

Egypt’s People ‘Taught Me the Definition of Gratefulness’ — Magy Mekhail Reflects on Serve to Learn

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Magy Mekhail takes a perfect selfie with her class and Abouna Maximos.

Dear Friends,
I’ve traveled all over Egypt, but every time I visit an Upper Egyptian village I’m still amazed at the simplicity, generosity, and hospitality I find there. So in the interview below, when Serve to Learn volunteer Magy Mekhail says she learned the “definition of gratefulness” from the people of Matay in Upper Egypt, I believe her. Serve to Learn is a three-week service trip in Egypt where you teach, play, and love the world’s greatest kids! Come to Egypt and find out what these kids can teach you. Applications for the Jan. 22 – Feb. 13 trip are being accepted until Nov. 15.
— Nermien

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For you, what was the most moving or life-changing part of Serve to Learn?

How grateful people are. In the midst of all their hardships and struggles they are so thankful and hospitable. They just want to invite us in and feed us because they are so happy we visited — they taught me the definition of gratefulness.

Did Serve to Learn deepen your understanding of Egypt and your roots? 

Yes, I understood the culture better, why people act a certain way. It just added to my Coptic pride :)

Given the chance, what would you have done more of during the program?

I would have done more home visits and visited my kids (from my class) more than once.

What advice would you give anyone considering applying for Serve to Learn?

Talk with your partner and plan materials ahead of time. Don’t worry about accommodations or comfort or whatever because all that doesn’t matter when you are with your kids.

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Interested in learning more about Serve to Learn? Check out our video, which gives a snapshot of the program! 

If this blog makes you want to read other Serve to Learn stories, here are those of Marianne SawiresJessica HannaJessica AyobPheobe, and Ryan. If that’s not enough, you can read Serve to Learn  interviews with ToniJohnGabyMinaAndyVeronikaDavidBen, Kirollos, MariamAlex, and MirelleYou may also enjoy these video interviews with NadinePeter, and Mary.  

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