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Gemyana and her son in front of an icon at church.

Gemyana is a young woman from a village in Upper Egypt. Her family didn’t have much money when she was growing up, so she couldn’t go to school and experience a normal, carefree childhood. However, Gemyana was determined to learn, so she asked a teacher in her village to teach her how to read and write.  

Gemyana was smart and had dreams bigger than her financial limitations. Her dream was to become a doctor and her parents eventually enrolled her in an alternative schooling system designed for children older than the normal schooling age. But her parents could not support her dreams for long and insisted that education was useless. They pulled her out of school when she was in middle school.  

Gemyana married when she turned 18 and had her only child at 19 years old. Thankfully, her husband was compassionate and supported her dreams, encouraging her to continue her education through studies at the Industrial Technical High School.  

Tragedy struck when her husband passed away during her second year of high school. Gemyana was left a widow at just 20 years old, with a one-year-old child who would never know their father. Gemyana had to deal with her grief while also facing an uncertain future and no income. Despite these challenges, she continued her studies with her in-laws’ encouragement.  

Gemyana remained determined to pursue education and, with the help of her priest, found a job as a teacher in her church’s Sunday school. She received training in child development and discipline and excelled in her role.  

After four years as a widow, 24-year-old Gemyana and her child found support in the Not Alone Program 

The Not Alone Program gave Gemyana another chance to achieve her educational goals. It relieved the financial burden of her child’s education and allowed her to continue her own higher education. With the support of her Rep and her priest, Gemyana decided to pursue a career in speech pathology and enrolled in the College of Education for Child Development.  

Gemyana’s determination to improve her own life and her child’s is a testament to the importance of empowering mothers as the foundation of their families. Families play a crucial role in shaping a child’s identity–especially how they see themselves and the world.  

We recognize the enormous influence mothers have in protecting and developing the well-being of their children. This International Widows’ Day, we pray for all widows for their unwavering dedication to their families.