2021

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 By Ayat Elnoory

Meeting Dian in 2014 was the start of a beautiful friendship rooted in love and service. I learned of Givelight's story on a cold San Francisco day; of beauty built from heartache, and the mercy that permeates every part of her life's work. Captivated by every word she shared, I made the intention to visit the first home Dian and her family dedicated to the nourishment and upbringing of children who have lost their parents and caregivers.

Group photo in front of givelight house

Later that spring, I set off with two of my dear friends to the town of Takengon, Indonesia, where we were greeted after our midnight arrival by young and eager faces fighting sleep to learn every detail about our travels, our lives, our cities, and why we had flown across the globe to meet them. The next few weeks were nothing short of life-changing. Despite the language barrier, we shared stories, played charades, recited poetry, made artwork, cooked meals, climbed mountains (literally!), and wept tears as we parted. I was profoundly humbled by the utter joy, gratitude, and compassion that filled the lives and spirits of the children. They bade us farewell with beautiful paintings, tears, hugs, and promises to return. More than anything, the excellence with which the home was run, with attention to each and every child's dreams and hopes for their futures, is what solidified my commitment to supporting GiveLight for life. I witnessed firsthand the blessing of service in action; of the promise that with every difficulty indeed comes ease; and the miracle of one person's intention blossoming into a community that cares deeply about ensuring the well-being of the most vulnerable.

Group photo in Oudja on the beach

Since the trip to Takengon, I've traveled to the GiveLight home in Oujda alongside Dian who has also become a dear friend, sister, and mentor. I couldn't imagine that my experience in Takengon could be outdone, but walking into the magnificent, newly built home, touring the grounds, and speaking with the exceptional staff was further confirmation of the dedicated focus she brings to everything she touches. From the evening of remembrance at the home of the headmistress, Ms. Fatima, to the beach outing at nearby Saidia, to the daily chef-prepared food, each and every day was an adventure. During that visit, a new intention was born: where and how to support expanding this work to my homeland. I spoke to Dian about ideas and projects, and her advice for me has always been consistent: start somewhere, and it will grow. This past Ramadan was the start of a hopeful and ambitious project to support 200 special needs orphans in Cairo, Egypt.

Five happy boys

The orphanage, with several branches in Cairo, was founded in 2003 and has since grown to be one of the most well-respected NGOs in the country. Through Egypt Relief and Aid, we have recently begun a collaboration with them to support their efforts and to raise awareness about the needs of the orphans, some of whom require 24/7 specialized care. Our Cairo-based board member recently returned from a visit to the home and highlighted how deeply committed the teachers, therapists, and support staff is to the needs of the children. With plans to develop a job training program for the young adults in the home, the possibilities are expanding to develop pathways for self-sufficiency. I am grateful that GiveLight has signed on to support 50 orphans through this partnership, with hopes to expand that support in the future, God willing.

Smiling children with masks

In the meantime, we ask for your prayers and for your support, and I encourage anyone who's interested in furthering this work in Egypt to connect with us to learn more about this and other projects. Where there is a calling in your heart, make the intention, start with one step, and the astonishing power of communal love will deliver even the most difficult plans to fruition.

 Children playing wiith balls