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 14,000 children throughout Egypt.
Mar 4, 2013

Building Bridges Across Egypt's Religious Divide

People sometimes ask why we place importance on building Christian and Muslim relationships through the Valuable Girl Project.  After the revolution sectarian violence has escalated significantly. We see it as our responsibility to continue to build a bridge of understanding to keep our children safe.

In Egypt, many children and adults never interact with each other simply because of their religious differences. Separate cultural and religious practices often eliminate the opportunity to communicate for a basic understanding. As people get older their fear of the unknown can sometimes develop into a full blown hatred.

Aalia* happens to be Muslim and is a Big Sister mentor participating in our Valuable Girl Project.  She shares her thoughts about interacting with other Christian girls through Coptic Orphans.

"Before participation in the program, I used to carry negative attitudes and feeling towards Christians in general. I never used to have any Christian friends or as much as talked to my fellow Christian classmates or neighbors, if I knew they were Christian. The reason I joined the project was exclusively driven by the motive to find a job…nothing else! However, upon the start of the project, I was personally touched by the love and respect my fellow Christian girls showed me. After participating in the Valuable Girl Project I started to feel a mutual love and respect for them as well. I felt that something changed in me and in how I lead my life just by observing how they treated me. Consequently, my family also changed their attitudes towards Christians in general. A few months after joining the project, our local VGP coordinators advertised an overnight trip to Assuit which included a visit to Saint Mary’s Monastery and I wanted to go. I wanted to spend time with my new friends and understand more about their life. When I asked my dad if he would let me participate in the trip he said I could go because he knew I would be safe and that I have nothing to fear with my new Christian friends. VGP helped change me and my family’s attitude towards Christians for the better."


*Names changed to protect the privacy of the families


Dec 28, 2012

New Cycle Begins in Egypt's Changing Marketplace

Widows' businesses often focus on local staples

Inflation and insecurity have driven Egypt's markets to become more local, and more focused on the basics. The result has been hard-hitting for Egypt's widowed households, who already struggle for life's necessities. But the new, more informal local economies has also opened up new market opportunities for household businesses who could not compete with larger, more regional retailers before the current crises.   


The Problem: Inflation, Insecurity Drive Market Changes in Egypt

The government has already begun easing Egypt's heavy food and fuel subsidies. While so far only fuel has been first, the cost of food has also already gone up. Egyptians are beginning to hoard rice and other staples as a hedge against the future. The Egyptian pound has fallen to its lowest value in eight years, and imports on grains and other necessities are increasing.  

The soaring cost of transportation is putting local economies at an advantage by making it more difficult to ship goods across larger areas. Meanwhile, the lack of police presence in many Egypt neighborhoods and villages, and rising crime rates, are also shifting the economic advantage to neighborhood-based businesses. Local residents throughout the country have responded by blockading roads and forming neighborhood watches, making it even more difficult to bring goods to market from outside local areas.


The 2013 Opportunity: Widowed Mothers Strategically Positioned in New Neighborhood Economies

Inflation in the cost of food staples and fuel always hit the poor hardest, including widowed households. Yet as these changes unfold in Egypt, there is also an opportunity for widows.

Last year, B'edaya offered widows the opportunity to open small mini-marts from their homes or other places in their local neighborhoods. But it was difficult to compete with larger, more regionally connected merchants.

Widows in Egypt tend to travel much less than other groups, because of poverty and because of the social stigma of widowhood. Recent market changes in Egypt have turned this to an advantage for widowed mothers who start small grocery shops from their homes or sell livestock that they raise. These female-owned village shops are now poised to become neighborhood mainstays for daily goods in increasingly closed and self-contained villages.


Timeline for B'edaya 2013

January starts a new business cycle for B'edaya, (Arabic for "with my own hands") Coptic Orphans' microcredit program for widowed mothers in Egypt. 

We are accepting applications this month from widowed mothers who will benefit from Egypt's new, more local market space in order to break the cycle of poverty and finally reach the dream of self-sufficiency for their families. 

On March 25, 2013, we will choose finalist projects that will begin thereafter.

Dec 10, 2012

Project Coordinator Rescued from the Nile

Local Coordinators in Training
Local Coordinators in Training

Sherry served as a local coordinator for a Valuable Girl Project site. The experience of helping girls succeed in school and lfie who found themselves marginalized in their villages just for being girls--and some of whom had experienced the further marginalization of being fatherless, a serious circumstance in Egyptian culture--transformed Sherry's life. She decided to dedicate her life to work with paternal orphans as part of Coptic Orphans.

Late this September, was sitting at the back of an old microbus after spending a long day going from home to home, checking on the progress of orphaned children in Samalout, and delivering free health insurance cards to children.

The cards gave each child rare coverage for high quality medical care in a country where woefully inadequate government health systems often leaves children from poor families with debilitating chronic and terminal conditions.

She had cards for 250 more children in the bag she held tightly on her lap against the bustle of passengers stacked together—unbuckled—throughout the bus.

Just before they crossed a bridge to Mallawi, the bus’s breaks screeched. It hit the car ahead with a crunch and a jerk. Passengers slammed backwards and piled into Sherry as she felt the bus swing around. Their weight became crushing as the front of the bus tilted wildly. She knew they were falling in the Nile.

They hit the Nile with a smack. Glass shattered and poured into the bus with cascades of water.

She prayed and immediately thought: "The God who brought Jonah up from beneath the waters is my God, too." With that, she closed her eyes.

Men pulled Sherry out the window of the bus, and she emerged without broken bones or major injuries. Only the tenderness of minor bruises remained days later.

But the story doesn’t end here.

Two weeks later, the police called. They found a plastic envelope that had her name on it floating down the Nile. The envelope had the precious health insurance cards for the 250 children in her area who were still waiting for access to medical care.

Sherry draws on her faith when she reflects about what happened: “Because I am serving God’s children, He rescued me from drowning.  And because Coptic Orphans’ children are His own, He returned their health insurance cards safely – 15 days later, and from the bottom of the Nile.”

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