Valuable Girl: Empower 100,000 Girls in Egypt

by Coptic Orphans
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Valuable Girl: Empower 100,000 Girls in Egypt
Valuable Girl: Empower 100,000 Girls in Egypt
Valuable Girl: Empower 100,000 Girls in Egypt
Valuable Girl: Empower 100,000 Girls in Egypt
Valuable Girl: Empower 100,000 Girls in Egypt
Valuable Girl: Empower 100,000 Girls in Egypt
Valuable Girl: Empower 100,000 Girls in Egypt
Valuable Girl: Empower 100,000 Girls in Egypt
Valuable Girl: Empower 100,000 Girls in Egypt
Valuable Girl: Empower 100,000 Girls in Egypt
Valuable Girl: Empower 100,000 Girls in Egypt
Valuable Girl: Empower 100,000 Girls in Egypt
Valuable Girl: Empower 100,000 Girls in Egypt
Valuable Girl: Empower 100,000 Girls in Egypt
Valuable Girl: Empower 100,000 Girls in Egypt
Leaders from many parts of society took part!
Leaders from many parts of society took part!

Dear Friend and Supporter of Valuable Girls,

I'm excited to let you know that 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 that I was able to offer in my capacity as executive director. I 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.


  • 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

I can't overemphasize how extraordinary an event of this type is in Egypt. Your love, prayers, and support, by God's grace, are what makes milestones like this possible - thank you in every way!

One Body in Christ,

Nermien Riad
Founder and Executive Director

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Bringing girls and young women together to learn!
Bringing girls and young women together to learn!

We often focus on the individual strengths of the young women and girls who participate in the Valuable Girl Project. What frequently goes unsaid, however, is the collective strengthening of the community development associations (CDAs) with which Coptic Orphans partners to make the project a reality.

It's this capacity-building, and the collaborative way in which it's tackled, that adds yet another unique dimension to the Valuable Girl Project!

A prime example is what's about to take place in Qena. There, seven CDAs will gear up, in the next few months, to train each other! Through the Valuable Girl Project's development model, which highlights the importance of sustainable development through the CDAs, these associations were asked to evaluate their own skills. Based on the results of that process, the CDAs with the best ability to lead trainings in a particular area will do so for their fellow organizations.

This is development for the long term, as opposed to simple fixes and charitable approaches. Growing real capacity in grassroots organizations, especially when done in this supervised peer-to-peer manner, is the key to surfacing the best and most realistic wisdom for problem-solving - wisdom that is based on the experiences of the trainers and trainees themselves. 

In fact, Coptic Orphans is taking a capacity-building approach to all 16 of the CDAs with which it will be working when the new phase of the Valuable Girl Project kicks off this fall. In that approach is a built-in awareness and responsiveness to the economic challenges facing Egypt's people. This approach became clear when soaring inflation raised the price tags of local trainings by nearly half, in just a short span of time. Coptic Orphans adjusted the training budgets to take the inflation into account, raising them in step with the rising costs.

"We appreciate this consideration for the changing circumstances we face," said Mira, the head of one of the CDAs that will host Valuable Girls. "The increased budget for trainings means that we won't have to sacrifice quality in order to share the knowledge that benefits the girls."

Coptic Orphans values this kind of partnership with local organizations, and we're proud to be responsive in the storm of changing pressures in Egypt. Thanks to the support of generous donors like you, this work can continue to bring together Big and Little Sisters, from both Muslim and Christian backgrounds, to advance the empowerment of girls and young women through education!

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Valuable Girl Project's Aida Abdou is honored
Valuable Girl Project's Aida Abdou is honored

Mother's Day is a time we honor the strong femal role models who shape our lives from the earliest age. Today, I'm writing with good news about the Mother's Day recognition that one of the key leaders of the Valuable Girl Project recently received for her outstanding work on behalf of young women in Egypt!

Aida Abdou, the field coordinator of the Valuable Girl Project in Assiut, was honored in March by local officials of the Ministry of Social Solidarity. As part of marking Mother's Day, which in Egypt is celebrated March 21, they expressed appreciation for her work on women's issues, and especially hailed her leadership on last summer's "Women of Assiut are Decision Makers" initiative.

The initiative raised girls' awareness of their rights in education and employment, and enhanced their leadership and public speaking skills. 

Aida, who acknowledged the honor with a heartfelt "Thank you!" has played a key role as mentor and role model for many Egyptian girls.

The ministry's recognition of Aida took place at almost the same time as Coptic Orphans launched the 2017 partner recruitment stage of the Valuable Girl Project with events in Qena, Assiut, and Cairo.

Almost 300 representatives of nearly 130 local community development organizations working on initiatives for women and children attended the unveiling of the project’s recruitment stage. That stage will lead to the launch of the project’s new phase in September 2017, in which almost 1,500 local girls and young women will be enrolled in educational Big Sister-Little sister mentoring relationships.

We're excited to be gearing up for a great new phase of this project, and grateful that you are funding the skills-building and mentoring that can unlock the leadership potential of these Valuable Girls.

Thank you for your generous gifts to ensure a better future for the young women of Egypt!

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Valuable Girls learn about the power of art.
Valuable Girls learn about the power of art.

Many times, art can divide, with particular designs and motifs singling out one group of people as opposed to another.

But art can also unify. In fact, many of the Valuable Girls’ day-to-day activities use art to teach. For example, making model pyramids in Big Sister-Little Sister teams is a way of conveying both artistic skills and pride in Egypt’s shared heritage.  

Here’s the surprising way these values changed the life of one Valuable Girl, Dima, who approached me with this story:

 “My university professor asked our class to make a drawing for our exam. He told us to choose between an Islamic design and a Coptic design. All the Muslim students chose the Islamic design and all the Christians chose the Coptic one.

“Everything I’d learned came rushing back to me, and I started thinking about how we’re all the same regardless of religion.”

“I told my classmates that I was choosing the Coptic design and that I’d need partners. I started talking with them about Valuable Girl and the trainings we had there, and I gave them a summary of what I had learned. I saw people changing — they were touched by what I said.”

Dima said the resulting conversation gave her “a very nice feeling, the first one like it I’ve ever had in my life.”

“Most Muslim students changed their mind and chose the Coptic design, and so did the Christians. The students kept applauding me and I was over the moon. I felt change was possible. I’d never have imagined that I could speak confidently in front of all these people and earn their admiration.”

“I can’t believe that me, Dima, who used to say everyone should stick to friends of their own religion, could do all that.”

Dima’s story embodies much of what the Valuable Girl Project aims to contribute to each girl’s life. As individuals, the project boosts their belief in themselves, and their capacity to do things they never dreamed possible. As community members, the Valuable Girls are encouraged and prepared to create bridges that join people from different backgrounds.

Multiplied across project sites and hundreds of participants each year, the Valuable Girl Project is building respect from the grassroots up, powered by brave and creative young women. Thank you for your generosity, which makes it possible.

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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!

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Organization Information

Coptic Orphans

Location: Merrifield, Virginia - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @copticorphans
Project Leader:
Nermien Riad
Merrifield , Virginia United States
$196,092 raised of $300,000 goal
361 donations
$103,908 to go
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