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Though she had never been to southern Egypt and didn’t quite know what to expect, Basma Abdel Malek was still determined to meet her sponsored child, Manal. It was the dream visit she had been planning for a year.

So last year, the 32-year-old bank employee from Ontario, Canada traveled to Assiut and met Manal, with whom she had been corresponding for one year. Ten-year-old Manal and her older sister live with their widowed mother. Their father died when Manal was six.

“I’m really glad I went,” says Basma. “It was really rewarding to see Manal well taken care of and growing up in a healthy and safe environment. I was also impressed by the great service of the staff.” Coptic Orphans had helped to renovate the home of Manal’s family, and, according to the family, the renovations had really transformed it. “A place where you could really live a normal life,” says Basma.

Basma and Manal spent about five hours together and visited the local monastery. They had dinner and prayed together. “She talked about her exams and how well she had done,” says Basma. “It was good to see how well she was educated and well spoken. She told me she was very happy to meet me.”

Although there are many child sponsorship programs to choose from, Basma says that what really attracted her to Coptic Orphans was the focus on education and its importance.  “You keep supporting the children as long as they are in school,” says Basma.

As for Basma, she plans now on visiting Manal every time she travels to Egypt. “What we basically need in Egypt is educated kids,” says Basma, “and this is why I sponsor a child with Coptic Orphans.”

*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the child.