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.
Oct 25, 2016

Signed, Sealed, Delivered... Valuable Girl Power Wins Post Office Victory

Never underestimate the girls of Egypt!
Never underestimate the girls of Egypt!

Your support for the Valuable Girl Project means a group of determined girls were able to send a big message about their power to make change – through the mail! 

What's more, in the process, they helped their fellow villagers avoid sexual harassment and the dangers of a perilous highway. Here's how it unfolded:

After the young women in the Mahaba Coptic Orthodox Association for Development & Environment received civic education training through the Valuable Girl Project, they started to contribute to solving their community’s problems. These 20 youths, aged 15-26, believed that they could make one of their neighbors’ dreams come true, there in the village of Al Amodain.

The village, with a population of 30,000, lacked a post office. As it happens, the mail is a lifeline for the community members — it’s the means by which they can get their government pension, transfer money, and receive letters from loved ones.

Without a postal facility in their own village, they had to go to the post office in Atsa, 5km away. It cost the Al Amodain villagers too much to go back and forth, and on top of that, Atsa’s post office was often crowded. Things were apt to heat up inside, especially after a vendetta sparked tensions between the two villages.  In fact, the Al Amodain villagers were forced to go to an even more distant post office just to avoid potential conflict. 

The Valuable Girls took the initiative to raise people’s awareness about their rights. They also addressed the local government officials, advocating for a post office in Al Amodain. It took many discussions with the officials, but in the end, they approved the construction of a post office. The girls and the local authorities took on the cost of building the new facility, and they raised 100,000 EGP.

When, in the end, the new post office officially opened in February 2016, it was proof to the entire village that despite the obstacles society place in their path, girls can indeed make history as much as men can!

“My mom suffered 2-3 times per month when she went to the post office to get the money sent by my dad, who works in El Suez,” said Mary, adding, “My mom now tells me: 'Finally, I don’t have to suffer from traveling and sexual harassment each month!'”

“The way to the nearest post office used to be called ‘The Way to Hell’ because of the many accidents that happened to people traveling on this highway,” said another Valuable Girl, Salma. “Now I’m proud of myself as well as the other girls that we were able to positively contribute to our community.”

Thank you for continuing to support for the Valuable Girl Project, and let’s keep educating Egypt’s brilliant children!

Aug 5, 2016

A Mom's 'Stability, Self-Confidence, and Opportunity to Prove Myself'

A widow joins B
A widow joins B'edaya during the 3rd-round launch.

I wanted to share an inspiring story I just heard from one of our staff, who is visiting the villages in Egypt where your support is enabling widowed mothers run their own businesses. He told me:

I met a woman named Marina from a village near Sohag. When she was widowed three years ago, she was left alone to support four daughters.

Before her husband's death, she had been taking odd jobs tailoring clothes for friends and acquaintances. After her husband died, she started doing it full time.

In 2014, her daughters became enrolled in Not Alone, the Coptic Orphans program that works to remove every obstacle between fatherless children and their education. While the program focuses on offering the children love, encouragement, and mentoring aimed at meeting their specific needs, especially with regard to education, it also benefits the entire family.

One of the key benefits for mothers is the opportunity to become part of B'edaya, the Coptic Orphans microfinance initiative tailored specifically to widows' needs.

Marina was able to join the second round of B'edaya and obtain a loan to boost her small business. In her words, being part of Not Alone and B'edaya gave her a feeling of "stability, self confidence, and an opportunity to prove myself."

The B'edaya loan helped her to avoid having to reach out for handouts. It also meant she didn't have to work for someone else. In fact, for Marina, B'edaya "isn't just about the loan, it's about the advice, the follow-up, the guidance."

Today, two of Marina's daughters are in college. One is studying graphic design and the other studies business. Her advice for her daughters now is, "Learn a trade along with your degree; in Egypt's unstable economy, having a trade is something to fall back on."

Marina's dream is that her little home business grows into a small factory where she hopes to one day teach tailoring skills to young women, and then hire them.

This spring, Coptic Orphans held ceremonies around Egypt honoring 42 widowed mothers who received LE243,500 (US$27,400) in microloans for income-generating projects in B'edaya's third round.

These mothers are heroes to all of us at Coptic Orphans, and by God’s grace, we’re honored to provide them with both microloans and coaching in entrepreneurial skills to develop their inborn perseverance, ingenuity, and business-savvy.

Thank you for your continuing support, and for helping these mothers escape poverty and put their families on the path to economic self-sufficiency!

Jul 28, 2016

'My Father Was Amazed at What I Could Do'

The Valuable Girls learn and laugh together.
The Valuable Girls learn and laugh together.

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.

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."

With your support, Lara and our Valuable Girls will continue making progress towards claiming the same rights and opportunities as their fellow citizens. In doing so, they'll make a better world for their daughters!

 
   

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