Cairo – MENA Herald: As part of their contribution to the Egyptian society, several dorm students at The American University in Cairo (AUC)volunteer every two weeks at an orphanage in Cairo, an initiative that has started with a mere number of five freshmen volunteers and has grown to include 15 students. “As an international student at AUC, I don’t frequently interact with children or the outside community,” said Halim Ifticen, business administration major and recipient of the MEPI Tomorrow’s Leaders Scholarship. “The most beautiful part of this experience is how hopeful and happy children become when we visit them. We try to be big brothers and sisters in every way possible by supporting them with homework, English-language skills, and engaging them in arts and crafts.”
Visiting orphanages is one of several charity projects undertaken by AUC’s University Residences to instill in students community service values and a sense of social responsibility. Student residents have also volunteered in packing donations to low-income families in Upper Egypt. “Freshman students came up with the idea of donating used bedding that was kept in storage rooms for months,” said Dina El Ghazaly, residential life coordinator at the Office of Residential Life. “So far, we have donated approximately 110 blankets, in addition to pillows and towels. Encouraging students to take a volunteer role helps them develop a commitment to community engagement, as well as enabling them to interact with the community outside campus and learning how to make positive relationships.”
While packaging items into bags, students wrote inspiring messages and placed them inside the donation bags. Some notes stated, “Wish to your brother the same you wish to yourself” and “Always try to do right because it will guide you to the right path in life.”
“What’s great about charity,” El Ghazaly noted, “is that you find a lot of people coming up with ideas on how to show love and support. There is no way to remove the grieve children and families experience, but we can at least play our own roles in consoling vulnerable individuals.”
In an effort to raise awareness about orphan children, the University Residences hosts Orphanage Day every semester, inviting orphans and NGOs for a full day of fun activities at AUC. This year, Orphanage Day will take place at the New Cairo campus on April 5, and approximately 60 orphans will attend. “Orphanage Day is always a success, and it makes children feel good about themselves,” said El Ghazaly. “There is positive energy that you could feel amongst everyone; it’s a wonderful experience.”
Lama Ibrahim, a sophomore majoring in graphic design, noted how community outreach has changed her perspective on many things. “I used to get intimidated working in environments outside of my comfort zone,” she said. “But when you’re volunteering for charity, you don’t really think how that person is different. I’ve learned how to adjust to different environments and how I can transform the lives of underprivileged individuals into what might resemble a normal life.”