Our Story

The Coptic Christian Relief Fund (CCRF) is a non-profit charity established by the friends and family of the late Dr Medhat G. Latif (1953-2013), the man who inspired the project and after whom it is named. As a devout Coptic Christian and a keen philanthropist, Dr Latif’s selfless commitment to using his God-given talents and resources to help those who were less fortunate than him is the main motivating force behind the CCRF.

Before moving to the United States, Medhat Latif grew up in the Egyptian town of El Minya on the River Nile, where he was born on 17th March 1953. While studying for a degree in engineering at El Minya University, he met his wife Samia, whom he married in July 1978. In the same year, the Egyptian government granted him a scholarship to pursue graduate studies in mechanical engineering at the University of Arizona. Together he and Samia moved to Tucson in 1985, and in 1993 he obtained his doctorate.

While Dr Latif was an accomplished engineer, his family and friends remember him most as a caring father, a generous giver, and a faithful and active member of the Coptic Church. Even though he found his home in the United States, he did not forget the Coptic community suffering from religious persecution and discrimination in his homeland. It was his dream to return to Egypt and live out the remainder of his years there among his Coptic brothers and sisters, doing whatever he could to help.

Sadly, Dr Latif was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and passed away in April 2013. However, although he was unable to fulfil his dream himself, he continues to be an inspiration to the members of the CCRF, which bears his name. The organisation has grown from humble beginnings in 2010, when members of the Latif family and their friends began making efforts to bring clothes and toiletries to needy Christian families in their hometown of El Minya in Upper Egypt.

However, they soon found that the local people – who are mostly rural farmers – needed more than handouts. In the face of economic decline and neglect from the government, the Copts and their Muslim neighbors need to be able to support themselves in a safe and respectful environment. As a result, Dr Latif and his family and friends began the Livestock Exchange Program, providing animals to help support struggling families in rural Egypt, on the understanding that they would then offer the animals’ offspring to help support another struggling family.

Seeing the difference that these efforts were making for the Coptic community in Egypt, the family decided that it was time to put their efforts on a more formal and organized basis so that they could extend their outreach, and so in 2013 the CCRF was incorporated as a non-profit charitable organization, receiving 501-c-3 status from the IRS. From its origins as a simple attempt by the Latif family to bring everyday necessities to disadvantaged members of their community back in Egypt, the CCRF is now expanding into a much broader organization. It now counts Americans from a wide range of ethnic and denominational backgrounds among its supporters and volunteers, and it is able to engage in much more ambitious projects such as the planned annual Medical and Dental Convoy.

The CCRF carries out most of its work in Egypt, although we are engaged in efforts here in the United States to raise awareness among the public and government of the plight of Christians in Egypt and the rest of the Middle East. The organization does help Coptic refugees who wish to settle in the US, although as a non-political organization we are not able to offer legal advice or help with paperwork.

In addition to the Livestock Exchange Program and the Medical and Dental Convoy, we are also working on projects to bring a mobile library to areas of Egypt that lack good access to reading and educational materials and are collecting donations of books to give to families in need.

In the future, we plan to go further still, forming partnerships with other NGOs operating in Egypt that have similar goals. In particular, we want to help improve access to good education for Coptic families, especially young girls, who rarely have the chance to go to school and realize their full potential. To this end, we hope to be able to cooperate with partner NGOs to open summer camps for female students and to highlight the importance of girls’ education.

The CCRF aims to keep Dr Latif’s memory alive by returning to Egypt to bring aid to the poor and disadvantaged and to promote the Christian values of brotherhood and friendship. By offering aid to all those in need, be they Christian, Muslim or otherwise, we hope to help people overcome sectarian division and raise awareness both at home and abroad of the victims of religious persecution.

 

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