Tag Archives: orphans

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

20160701_210835-3
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!

How the Girls’ Love and Tolerance Awakened a Community

160126_VGP GG
The Valuable Girl Project honors young women’s voices.

I’m writing today with sadness, because Leila, one of the participants in the Valuable Girl Project, recently passed away. Like all of the Little Sisters in the project, Leila is someone we cherished. Her loss is felt deeply by staff, family, and her friends.

Yet, I also want to share the remarkable way the girls united after Leila’s passing, and how that also brought together their Christian and Muslim parents.

Leila (not her real name) was struck by heart problems while traveling out of Upper Egypt. By the time she could be treated, it was too late to save her life. In the wake of this tragedy, her fellow Little and Big Sisters were sad, but consoled each other. And, amazingly, they decided that they should be part of the public mourning.

“All of the girls wanted to be present at their sister’s funeral,” said Susan, coordinator of the project site.

I can’t tell you how unusual that is, not just in a town in Upper Egypt, but in all of the country. Cemeteries are, as a rule, just about as segregated as it gets. For the girls to unite around the memory of their friend, and persuade their parents to permit their show of collective grief and solidarity, was an extremely rare event.

Leila’s family was really overwhelmed by the girls’ decision to come together, and as a group including both Christians and Muslims. And, somehow, this brought the community together in a way that hadn’t happened before. It seemed to make them value the project even more, and increase their determination to sustain it.

“We really want to see this project continue,” Rana, the mother one of the Valuable Girl Project participants, told Susan. “Even if it means we have to keep it going without funding, somehow.”

Thanks to generous donors whose specially dedicated contributions provide all the support for the Valuable Girl Project, there’s no danger of the project shutting down. In fact, we’re just as committed to it as the parents, and we’re identifying participants and sites for 2016.  We’re spreading the messages that girls and young women are a benefit to themselves and society when they have access to education, that Christians and Muslims can overcome the obstacles facing them. And we count on everyone who shares these values to stand with us.

This work makes a difference. We can see it in the way the girls came together when Leila passed away, surprising their community with their love and unity. We can see it in their parents’ desire to continue the project, no matter what stands in the way. Together, we’ll keep spreading tolerance and access to quality education for these valuable girls!