Coptic Orphans

Coptic Orphans is an award-winning international Christian development organization that unlocks the God-given potential of disadvantaged children in Egypt, and so equips them to break the cycle of poverty and become change-makers in their communities. Coptic Orphans works through grassroots partner and volunteer networks to strengthen local communities for sustainable impact. Since 1988, Coptic Orphans has equipped over 30,000 children throughout Egypt.
May 13, 2014

Valuable Girl Project: Finding Peace in Times of Turbulence

It's no secret that these are not the easiest of times in Egypt. In places, economic pressures are causing the fabric of society to fray. In these times, the work of the Valuable Girl Project is most important, for it is precisely the values of tolerance that ease social discord that are most needed. The project puts that tolerance front and center by involving both Muslim and Christian girls in Big Sister-Little Sister pairings. 

At the same time, the stresses of day to day life can take their toll on both the project coordinators and the girls themselves. For that reason, the project team recently held a session for coordinators on how to relax, achieve a peaceful state, and ease the pressure they're under. The older sisters who took part enjoyed the session so much that they asked that a similar one be held for the younger sisters, but with a focus on nurturing charity.

At the same time, to avoid being blind to the actual security issues and other challenges facing Egyptians today, the team trained coordinators in how to deal with insecurity, how to manage problems as they arise, how to plan meetings more effectively, and how to improve their monitoring and evaluation.

With this focus on balancing inner peace and outward wariness, the actual work of facilitating Big Sister-Little Sister relationships continues.  Thank you for keeping the faith, and for supporting the important work of tolerance-building and empowering young women. 

Feb 28, 2014

Determined to Beat the Odds

Madame Nahed meets in her newly purchased studio
Madame Nahed meets in her newly purchased studio

My husband use to have a photography studio together with his brother and I used to work with him. Now the brother wants to break up the partnership and open a new [studio] in a different city. He wants a sum of 4000EGP and the photography studio will only be for me.”

These were the words that widow Madame Nahed put in her Coptic Orphans Micro-Finance Project application. It was a simple plan to save her husband’s life work, and in September 2013, she was accepted for a loan and got her first check. 

When our Area Program Manager met Madame Nahed two months later, she was busy. She was cutting the portraits of a young man, a customer she had photographed the previous day. As she handed him the neatly cut small square, he smiled and paid her the 10EGP ($1.44) before he was on his way. Around her, new equipment hummed: a new digital camera, an upgrade from her previous film camera, and a brand new computer screen.

While official data estimate that 16% of Egypt’s breadwinners are women, Mona Ezzat of the New Woman Foundation, says that independent sources put the figure closer to 30%.  And these women brave a fierce economic market in Egypt today. Still, like Madame Nahed, so many are determined to beat the odds.

With the micro-loan from Coptic Orphans, Madame Nahed not only paid off her brother-in-law for complete ownership of the studio, but she also registered shop in her kids’ names. She even moved the studio to a better location, upgrading it with a new paint job to entice customers. Finally, she hung banners of her photographs outside of her shop as proof to her customers that she was up-to-date in her field, using programs like Photoshop. When the Area Program Manager asked her why she decided to apply for the loan, Madame Nahed replied that she was inspired because she saw an opportunity for herself to grow and to support her family. Despite the challenges --- a far commute from her home, a slumped market, and running the studio entirely along since her husband passed away four years ago--- she carries onward, forward, ready for the next customer.

Feb 10, 2014

Educate a Girl, Educate a Village

Little Sisters go over their Arabic lesson
Little Sisters go over their Arabic lesson

 Educate a man and you educate an individual. Educate a woman, and you educate her family, her village, and one day, her nation. It has been a said a myriad of ways, from scholars, advocates, and even passed down as proverbs of wisdom. But the truth remains the same: a girl’s education is not only vital to her own well-being, but it is also key to the prosperitystability to those around her and beyond.  

In Egypt, 38% of Egypt’s population---some 17 million adults---are illiterate; the majority of those being in the countryside (UN Data 2013). Unfortunately, the rates of illiteracy are largely unbalanced, with far more men and boys able to read than women and girls. The reason for this disparity is rooted in the inherent social roles attached to both women and men. Men are assigned the task of working and bringing income for the family while women are supposed to take care of the household and raise children. By default, the priority to educate girls and young women takes a back-seat to boys’ education.In the 2000 Egyptian Demographic and Health Survey, 38% of Egyptian mothers believe that parents should send the son to university if they can only afford to send one child, compared to 7% who believe that a daughter should be sent (2000EDHS). Consequently, a family may choose to pull the girls in the family out of school after a certain age (e.g. elementary) while leaving the boys to continue their education up to college in many cases.

At the Valuable Girl Project, we work to promote academic retention and greater awareness of the importance of girl’s education. Despite Egypt’s rocky political landscape since the Arab Uprising, we continue to run 8 sites all throughout Egypt where 163 Big Sisters are encouraged to mentor 163 Little Sisters to continue on to higher education. Big Sisters face the insecurities of their neighborhoods to plan and run educational workshops, seminars, and activities. Together, they throw parties to celebrate their Little Sisters and the seemingly mundane but heroic task: staying to move on from one grade to the next.

At Coptic Orphans, we stand behind all of our Sisters. We look to expand our program to 15 sites and to touch the lives of 420 more girls. That is the total of 746 transformed families, villages, and even the Egypt they call home. Help them to continue. Support the Valuable Girl Project today. 

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