Tag Archives: Valuable Girl Project

Valuable Girl Project Kicks Off New Session in Assiut

Leaders from the government, civil society, religious and other sectors joined in welcoming the launch of the new project session in Assiut.

Coptic Orphans launched a new session of its Valuable Girl Project in Assiut on October 17, 2017, with the presence of over 100 project beneficiaries, government dignitaries, religious leaders, representatives of key non-governmental organizations, and members of the press.

The chairpersons of seven community development associations (CDAs) signed contracts at the kick-off event, which was held in the hall of Assuit’s governorate, to mark their partnership with Coptic Orphans to implement the project.

The Valuable Girl Project aims at empowering vulnerable girls who are at risk of dropping out of school by overcoming obstacles to their efforts to learn, thrive, and become change-makers in their own communities. Coptic Orphans will carry out the Valuable Girl Project in various communities in Qena, Assiut, and Cairo in coordination with the local office of the Ministry of Social Solidarity (MOSS), and in partnership with local CDAs.

The event was held under the auspices of the governor of Assiut, who personally attended along top officials and key figures from the governorate. These included undersecretaries of MOSS,  endowments (awkaf), of education and of sport and youth. Also in attendance were the governor’s adviser on CDAs and international organizations, Christian and Muslim religious figures, the rapporteur-general of the National Council of Women, the president of regional union of Assuit’s NGOs, and media representatives.

The Valuable Girl Project’s approach involves high school and university-level “Big Sisters” engaging elementary school “Little Sisters” in one-on-one mentoring and a variety of activities that facilitate the development of critical life skills and values, such as leadership, initiative-taking, critical thinking, and citizenship. Each Big Sister receives a stipend towards her educational expenses; each Little Sister receives help with homework as the pair meet two times a week in a quiet, peaceful environment conducive to personal and academic growth and development.

The October 17 event started with national anthem, which was followed by words of welcome from Coptic Orphans Executive Director Nermien Riad. She thanked the governor for his support, and expressed gratitude to the undersecretaries of MOSS for helping the relevant CDAs get official approval.

Next on the agenda was a presentation about the Valuable Girl Project, which included an introduction to Coptic Orphans, its goals, and the philosophy of the project.

A series of speeches by the honored guests displayed the depth of support the project enjoys in Assiut.

  • Dr. Fatma Al Khiat, undersecretary of MOSS in Assiut, thanked Coptic Orphans and welcomed cooperation with the organization. She explained the role of MOSS in relation to civil society organizations and expressed support for the “honest work” which has a good impact on the community.
  • His Eminence Sheikh Abd Al Nasser, undersecretary of endowments, praised women’s education, saying: “The girls are the future mothers.” He quoted verses from Bible and Qur’an which support his words, and he urged this in attendance to join hands in support of the Valuable Girl Project and its success.
  • Father Thaofiles, the deputy of Bishop Younas, praised the role of Coptic Orphans and affirmed the importance of education, quoting verses of the Holy Bible.
  • Father Marcos, the deputy of Bishop Kirollos, affirmed the importance of development in Egypt and the vital need to work together.
  • The rapporteur-general of the National Council of Women expressed her happiness with implementing the project in the governorate, especially since the president of Egypt had designated 2017 the “Year of the Woman.”
  • The governor of Assiut noted his unprecedented attendance at such an event, and insisted on addressing the assembled guests. He thanked Coptic Orphans and its board, and further expressed happiness at the goals and concept of the Valuable Girl Project. He spoke about the problem of students dropping out of school, and its negative consequences and causes. He praised the project for giving a monthly stipend to the “Big Sisters” to help empower her to continue her education.

Following the governor’s words, the chairpersons of the seven partner CDAs signed their contracts and received additional relevant documents.

Attendees:

  • The Governor of Assiut
  • The undersecretary of MOSS,
  • The undersecretary endowments (awkaf)
  • The undersecretary education
  • The undersecretary sport and youth
  • The Governor’s adviser of CDAs and international organizations
  • The Rapporteur-General of national council or women
  • The president of regional union of Assiut’s NGOs
  • The deputy of Bishop Younas
  • The deputy of Bishop Kirollos
  • The officer of NGOs and two social workers
  • 30 employees from the MOSS directorate, public relations, the Ministry of Sport, the Youth the Ministry of Education, and the Assiut National Council of Women.
  • 22 representatives of the print and digital media
  • 7 chairpersons of 7 partner CDAs
  • 9 board members of 7 partner CDAs
  • 33 CDAs staff of the Valuable Girl Project

Photos of the Event


Media coverage

The event received a lot of media coverage.

Press coverage

Below are the links to Egyptian press coverage of the event in Assiut. The first link is to Elwatan News, which is the most widely read here in Egypt.

www.elwatannews.com/news/details/2622024

www.alhuura.com/Akhbar-Al-Mhafzat/379309.html

elgornal.net/news/news.aspx?id=10929468

http://www.albawabhnews.com/2761480

http://www.vetogate.com/mobile/2915864

http://www.medanelakhbar.com/egypt/news558679.html#

Local TV and Radio

The Alnahar, CBC, and Upper Egypt TV channels interviewed one of the project field coordinators.

Local Radio

Minya Radio interviewed the same field coordinator about the Valuable Girl Project

‘My Father Was Amazed at What I Could Do’

Girls who grow up believing in themselves can achieve great things!
Girls who grow up believing in themselves can achieve great things!

What happens when you awaken someone’s understanding of their own rights and self-worth?

Valuable Girl Project coordinators know that awakening, because they’ve seen it on the faces — and heard it in the words — of young women in some of Egypt’s poorest, most tradition-bound villages.

In fact, these awakenings have been happening since 2002, when the project was founded. Then, as now, it was funded by a special pool of donors, separate from other Coptic Orphans programs. It operates from the principle that, in order to truly be the salt of the earth, Christians must be proactive about loving their neighbors, as Christ taught us.

Lara, a Valuable Girl in Luxor, describes her own awakening this way: “I’ve learned that girls and boys are equals, and that there’s no difference between us. I’ve also learned about my rights and duties.”

Awakenings like Lara’s come despite huge obstacles. As she says: “In my village, we have solid customs and traditions that girls shouldn’t finish their education, and we’re not even allowed to go out of the house. Most of the girls in my village can only make it till middle school, and then they’re forced to get married.”

“And then the only thing anyone cares about is that they give birth to boys!” adds Lara, who has now spent over a year as a Big Sister in the project’s mentoring program.

Even more exciting is when these awakenings lead to action, as they have in Lara’s case. Now 22 years old, she has made her point to the doubters.

“I’m older than all my brothers, and I’ve always felt that my father wished I’d been a boy in order to help him farm and be his backbone,” she says. “I was like any other girl — I just used to listen to how he felt about it without doing anything about it!”

After learning of her own equality and rights, Lara says she became more confident.

“I decided to go talk to my father and asked to help him on the farm. His jaw dropped — he didn’t know what to say, and I insisted that he give me a chance to prove myself.”

“I went with him and I drove the tractor, harvested the crops, mowed the field, and even fed the cattle. My father was amazed at what I could do; I’ve practically proved to him that girls are the equal of boys and even better!”

Not content with the horizons of the family farm, Lara has set her sights on higher education. Since finding her own confidence — and her father’s — she has moved on to study graphic design at a local college.

This is how the Valuable Girl Project sets about and succeeds in transforming girls and young women. Involving them in the Big-Little Sister mentoring is only the first step; beyond that are leadership training and coaching that instill even greater confidence and self-worth.

The results become evident in how the girls think of themselves and others.

For example, monitoring the attitudes of the Valuable Girls over time reveals that nearly every one experiences an increased sense of self-efficacy — the belief in their capacity to act and thereby achieve what they want to achieve. Overwhelmingly, they also report increased agreement with the concept that males and females should have equal access to social, economic, and political opportunities.

These changes in attitudes are crucial to transforming not just individual lives, but also communities and societies. As Lara says:

“I’ve proved to my neighbors and other community members that girls are not weak and useless; they’re human beings of equal value and have the same rights and duties.”

Lara and our Valuable Girls are claiming the same rights and opportunities as their fellow citizens. In doing so, they’ll make a better world for their daughters!

Coptic Orphans Founder Nermien Riad Wins Leadership Award from ADC Women’s Empowerment Forum

Ambassador and Nermien
His Excellency, Ambassador Yasser Reda and Coptic Orphans Executive Director Nermien Riad at ADC Women’s Empowerment Forum, March 16, 2016.

Dear Friends,

I was deeply honored to accept the Women’s Leadership Award from the ADC‘s Women’s Empowerment Forum. I was able to deliver the keynote speech (below) on March 16 at the Egyptian Embassy in Washington, D.C. and receive the award along with a wonderful group of committed leaders. I’m grateful to God that Coptic Orphans has reached this point, and to every one of you, who have supported and made possible this exciting journey for the children!

One Body in Christ,
Nermien

It is a great honor to accept this award from the ADC Women’s Empowerment Forum.
In truth, I stand here today on behalf of thousands of heroic women — and men — in Egypt and beyond, who have dedicated their lives to our shared vision of a tolerant, and just world.

I am grateful to our hosts, His Excellency, Ambassador Yasser Reda, and Mr. Ayman Youssef, for putting forth the incredible effort to make this annual event what it is: a powerful forum from which we can celebrate our community’s achievements, heritage, and progress. A special thanks to Ambassador Reda for facilitating Coptic Orphans’ International Registration Renewal. We were just notified of it yesterday, so thank you.
I want to thank the WEF for honoring and highlighting the work of these amazing women here: Dr. Soad Bin Amer, The Hon. Dr. Mariann Azer, The Hon. Dalia Yousef, Ms. Laura Rozen — you make us all very proud.

For my part, let me accept this award with deep thanks to the ADC and Dr. Doaa Taha, chairwoman of the Forum, and pause to lift up the thousands of women, young and old, who, by God’s grace, are truly the reason I can take this stage tonight.

I am speaking of the women of Egypt, without whom Coptic Orphans, the organization I founded 27 years ago, would have quickly vanished into obscurity.

Those of you in the audience tonight, honored guests of the ADC, will recognize these women, because your own countries, your own communities, your own civil societies, also owe so much to these heroes:

First, the mothers. Coptic Orphans, as a unique Christian development organization, works to keep families together after the loss of a father. When tragedy strikes, it’s the mother who has to carry the tremendous burden on her shoulders. We support them in many ways, but they are the real heroes.

Second, community volunteers, who for us number over 450 and cover more than 700 towns and villages. A good half of them are women, and together with their male colleagues, they have moved Heaven and Earth by loving and mentoring the over 40,000 children we’ve reached in these 27 years. We owe the world to them, and in them, we see the spirit of volunteerism that transforms lives.

Third, girls and young women. The unsung heroes. Let’s stop for a moment and reflect on the obstacles that stand between these girls and young women, and the future they deserve. For one thing, they contend from birth with a patriarchal culture that is so deeply embedded that their very being female is considered flawed and inferior. The birth of a girl is at times occasion for mourning. Then there’s early marriage. One of our field staff went into a home in Maghagha to enroll a new family, and he found a 16-year-old girl, a toddler, and an infant. He asked the teenager: “Where’s Mama?” She replied, “I am Mama.”
He told me: “I was so taken aback — I didn’t know whether to deal with her as a child or as a widow.”

We can’t forget the brutal practice of FGM. Yes prevalence rates are decreasing, they are down to 91%, and all indications say that it will continue to decrease; but there are still places like Armant, a village not far from Luxor, where I was just last month, where the rate still stands at 100%.

All this translates into countless barriers, both visible and invisible, to a women’s attempt to better her life.

Nowhere is this more visible than in education. Entering into the school system, for girls in the Arab world, could fairly be compared to entering the arena for single combat. Or, more accurately, a combat of one against a legion of foes. We all know who gets called on in class, who is channeled into what area of studies, who is favored with scholarships and other opportunities. We all know who is blamed and held back, and who is shamed for “unwomanly” assertiveness simply for claiming her own rights. We all know, in short, that it is only through heroic determination, and extraordinary good fortune, that a girl can grow to be a well-educated woman and leader in the Arab world.

This, then, is the reason Coptic Orphans focuses on quality education: no single factor is more powerful in liberating women, and especially poor women, from the bonds into which they are born — than a solid education.

Can these obstacles be overcome? Can a difference be made? Yes, absolutely.
I’ll give you a sneak preview of how it’s already changing for the better, through the Valuable Girl Project.

So far, over 6,800 girls and young women have learned leadership and teamwork skills through the Valuable Girl Project, and we’re ramping up for 2016 to add 1,500 more girls. Not only has this resulted in remarkable improvement in academics, but it has changed the way the girl sees her self — as one who can improve the world around her.

Last year, the community development association that hosts the Valuable Girl Project in Sohag 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 girls came together and volunteered to teach reading and writing to the village kids. Today, in the village of Hawawish, over 200 kids now know how to read and write because of these girls. You can just imagine how these girls felt about themselves.

So what’s the secret of the success? It’s quite simple.

It’s a new and unique approach to international development. Mothers, children, volunteers, staff, donors… what we are witnessing, in our age, is how an organization like Coptic Orphans — with feet planted firmly in both Egypt and abroad — in the diaspora — is making genuine, positive, lasting change in the motherland. This is known as a diaspora organization — one whose sole reason for existence is the homeland, and the homeland alone.

Diaspora organizations involve patriotic diasporians and bring together international and local expertise with funds that are raised abroad, all for the sake of tackling urgent issues in the homeland.

Such organizations offer the best of both words: local in-country knowledge, and international access.

So, a Diaspora organization is one part of the answer. The other is the passion and initiatives of every person in this room. You care, and you care deeply. The good book says “Seek justice. Defend the oppressed, plead the widow’s cause”. And this is what you do. Each and every one of you: Soad, Laura, Marianne, Dalia, Doaa… the ADC — you — plead the case of the oppressed — and this is powerful!

So I’m very grateful to stand here tonight, accepting this award for Coptic Orphans, and I’m humbled to be standing among giants. I am confident that we will make this a world of heroic and empowered women who will, in turn, lift up every man, women and child. Thank you.