Egypt's Coptic Orphans Nonprofit Gets Gov't Recognition After 8 Years

After eight years of indecision, the Egyptian government has approved the international NGO registration of Coptic Orphans, a nonprofit organization focusing on relief efforts for paternal orphans and their families.

"Despite whatever circumstances held our application in limbo during previous years, Egypt government's approval is a confirmation of what we have been saying all along: that Coptic Orphans works for the betterment of all Egypt," Coptic Orphans founder and Executive Director Nermien Riad said in a statement emailed to The Christian Post.

Orphans initially filed an application for official NGO recognition in 2005, but due to miscommunications among government officials and Egypt's media, it did not receive approval for eight years.

On March 31, Easter Sunday, Pope Tawadros II, leader of Coptic Christians in Egypt, and numerous Bishops of the Holy Synod will meet with Riad and the 400 volunteers working for Coptic Orphans to congratulate them on their registration and bless the nonprofit on its future endeavors.

Although the organization now expresses thankfulness for its registration, it previously endured a difficult journey centered on miscommunication on behalf of the government and the media in the Islam-dominated country.

As The Christian Post previously reported, in April 2012, the North African country's Al Masry Al Youm newspaper reported that Egypt's Ministry of Insurance and Social Affairs denied Coptic Orphans' previous registration application because "mechanism[s] of implementation [were] found by the Egyptian [government to be in] conflict with state sovereignty over its territory."

At the time of this statement, the nonprofit's executive director argued that her organization did not understand how "working with orphaned children in Egypt to promote education and break the cycle of poverty could in any way conflict with national sovereignty."

Riad has managed to maintain an optimistic outlook regarding her organization in spite of past discouraging sentiment from the Egyptian government, saying in a statement in April 2012:

"Until the Lord calls us to stop, Coptic Orphans will continue to fulfill its commitment to the children. Village volunteers in local parishes will continue to visit orphaned families, renovate homes, and provide tutoring: all with the same support."

Critics contend that Egypt's Islam-dominated government has long been prejudicial toward the country's Coptic minority.

Pope Tawadros II, who took the holy office in November 2012, has made efforts to end this biased view of religious minorities in the country and stressed the importance of the Coptic people to the Egyptian culture.

"We are a part of the soil of this nation and an extension of the pharaohs and their age before Christ. Yes, we are a minority in the numerical sense, but we are not a minority when it comes to value, history, interaction and love for our nation," Tawadros told The Associated Press in February 2013.

Coptic Orphans was founded in 1988 and has grown to help over 27,000 paternal orphans in the country through various programs focusing on mentorship, self-esteem, education, community development, and self-sufficiency, among other things.