Hoda*, a university student in her third year at the Faculty of Social Services, and also a Big Sister in our Valuable Girl Project, lives in a settlement in Bani Shukair. In this settlement, there are only five females who have continued to university; Hoda was the first girl from her village to join the Valuable Girl Project. Hoda joined the Valuable Girl Project since its launch in 2002, and has since actively participated in all of the trainings provided by Coptic Orphans and the Community Development Associations.
At first, Hoda’s father would not allow her to travel to the various cities to attend the workshops and camps, but one of the Valuable Girl Project staff members explained the benefits and positive impact the trainings would have on Hoda. Since then, he has been supportive.
Being a Big sister in the Valuable Girl Project has had a positive impact on Hoda and inspired her in ways to dream about how she could develop her community. She took her initial ideas and dreams of making her community a better place, and put them into action by first sharing them with her VGP coordinators and staff members. With their support, Hoda and her peers launched an initiative where they began to provide literacy lessons for some of the illiterate children living in their settlement.
Hoda was able to obtain a list of 25 at-risk elementary-aged students who would likely drop out of school, and designed a literacy test for them. She implemented the exam for the students and after seeing what level they were each at, began giving them Arabic lessons. Hoda recruited three of her colleagues to help with this initiative. Hoda and her peers worked with the children out of Hoda’s home, and they would encourage their students by giving them candy and balloons. Since they began, the children’s literacy has much improved.
With time and after the lessons with the children, Hoda conducted another round of examinations to ensure the students were in fact literate. Hoda and her colleagues have since been working with these children on improving their skills in their other subjects including science, social studies and English.
Hoda is just one of the Big Sisters in the Valuable Girl Project making a positive and real difference in her village.
Other Valuable Girl Project highlights from the last two-year cycle that are worth noting are that little and big Sisters have showed academic improvement which qualified many of them to receive honors and recognition from their schools.
Big and Little Sisters achieved success on various levels including:
1- A majority of 800 Little Sisters improved their school scores. More than 45 came in first places in their grade; nine of them had a drastic change in their scores from 160s in their first year of participation to 580 by the end of the project cycle.
2- More than 30 Little Sisters improved their performance at school bringing them to the top of their classes or schools.
3- Fifteen of Big Sisters in Qena were chosen to participate in a World Bank discussion to survey social and economic needs in their areas for a new World Bank project.
4- Thirteen girls in Qena worked on El-Ayaisha Platform Renovation Initiative.
5- Eleven Big Sisters in Qena helped light a road that stretches for 7 kilometers in an effort to reduce car accidents and increasing casualties in Higaza Village.
6- 350 Big Sisters in Assiut worked on cleaning 7 villages, removing trash from streets, painting and decorating public areas in their villages.
7- Six Big Sisters served their community in Matarya by creating a class for children with low performance and special needs to improve their school performance.
8- 800 Big Sisters implemented 63 community Initiatives across 16 sites.
*Name and image changed to maintain the privacy and dignity of the child.