April 7, 2016, Cairo – To raise awareness of orphaned children in Egypt, the University Residences at The American University in Cairo (AUC) celebrated Orphans Day for the third year in a row this week, with a full day of gift-giving and entertainment activities for orphans and elderly adults. “Celebrating Orphans Day serves as an opportunity to show disadvantaged children, as well as elderly adults from our society, that they are loved and cared for,” said Samah Al Minawi, residential life manager at the Office of Residential Life. “The aim of this event is to touch base with the rest of society. Orphaned children depend on their community, and it’s their right for people to know that they are part of our society.”
AUC’s University Residences hosted approximately 67 orphans between the ages of 6 and 12, in addition to 20 elderly adults from different NGOs and elderly homes across Cairo. “This is our first year inviting elderly adults to Orphans Day at AUC,” said Dina El Ghazaly, residential life coordinator at the Office of Residential Life. “I think that integrating different underprivileged groups from our society to our event is essential. It’s the perfect occasion to expose them to a different environment than what they’re used to.”
The event included various activities throughout the day such as game booths, art, clown and magic shows, slides and free giveaways.
Emphasizing the importance of volunteering for charity, Al Minawi noted, “Volunteering strengthens our community, brings us together and bridges the social gap,” she said. “Community service is a social responsibility, and we must teach our community to become active. Providing attention and love doesn’t require much effort.”
Over the years, AUC students have demonstrated a strong commitment to community service. Orphanage visits are the main reason behind starting the Volunteers in Action (VIA) student club in 1996, when a group of AUCians visited an orphanage every Friday. Since then, VIA has dedicated its efforts to serve the orphan population in Egypt.
“VIA tries its best to make a difference in lives of children in need,” said Menna Elkholy, architectural engineering senior and VIA president. “We try our best to comfort orphans by showing that we care and drawing a smile on their faces. Our visits create a meaningful positive impact on both the staff members and children.”
For this year’s Orphans Day, approximately 10 to 15 students from VIA visited orphanages located in various Cairo districts, including Nasr City, Saraya El Kobba, Hadayeq El Kobba, Giza and Maadi. During these visits, students participate in developmental games and activities. “Our activities include coloring, break-the-ice games, ceramics art and performing a play,” said Elkholy. “Every visit has a different theme, and staff members also participate in planning the visits.”
VIA’s orphanage visits also serve as a skill-learning opportunity for staff members. “Orphanage staff members take advantage of our visits by gaining basic skills like organization and teamwork,” she said. “These are skills they can definitely apply at work, their personal lives and future opportunities.”
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