CAIRO: If it hadn’t been for the cameras and bunches of flowers, you wouldn’t have known there was a celebrity in the room. Otherwise, last week’s visit by actress and newly-appointed UN Goodwill Ambassador Youssra to the youth gathered at Coptic Orphans was conducted as a casual, comfortable group discussion.
The event gathered youth from the NGO at the Heliopolis office to show the actress their activities and projects.
To a small group of teenagers Youssra gave some words of inspiration and encouragement under the discussion topic of “Planning for the future.
“You have to take a step. Maybe someone will complete it, but you have to at least start . never take the easy way out.
She stressed the importance of believing in oneself. “You have to know that you can do it, she said, adding that though not all people will love you “all people can respect you.
And on planning, she warned “it is very dangerous not to know what you want.
The students told The Daily Star Egypt that they were most impressed by the fact that the actress had not completed her schooling and that she claimed to have failed as an actress for four years before becoming successful.
Not all the conversation was serious though. When asked about what she wanted to be when she was younger, Youssra said that she wanted to be a doctor, but when she fainted after watching a surgery and seeing the blood spurting out of the patient, she knew it wasn’t the thing for her.
She admitted that she should have followed some of her own advice. On saving money and planning ahead, she told a rapt audience, “I didn’t do it, but I’m saying you need to do it.
Before her UN appointment, Youssra was known to partake in numerous social causes and events. She says that violence against children and street children are the causes that concern her most. “All of us are responsible. If I see a kid in the street, I have to complain to the proper authorities, she said, referring to the hotline for street children, which may at least place them under supervision.
She told The Daily Star Egypt: “I have always been like that. If I am able to help, I have to give this help.
Since becoming a Goodwill Ambassador though, she says she has received a lot of new information. “It’s a hell of a job, and a very big responsibility.
Earlier in the day, Youssra saw the Coptic Orphans’ Valuable Girl project, consisting of both Muslim and Christian girls, where older students with learning and/or financial difficulties are trained to mentor younger girls who may be pulled out of school.
Coptic Orphans includes approximately 5,200 participants across Egypt from early ages up to the highest educational levels attained. While the Not Alone project is specifically for Coptic children who are fatherless for various reasons, the Valuable Girl project includes both Muslims and Copts whose poverty may be an obstacle to continuing their education. The program consists of regular home visits, family support, and bimonthly meetings to do handicrafts and hold discussions.
Ereny Sobhy of Coptic Orphans says their focus is on children who are fatherless because they often “lose their future potential, when they cannot afford to continue their schooling or are pulled out for other reasons.
Coptic Orphans will hold a Gala Dinner at the head office in Washington DC, where the founder Nermine Riyad permanently resides, on April 28. Youssra is invited as keynote speaker.