April 1, 2014, Cairo – For the ninth year in a row, the Volunteers in Action (VIA) student club at The American University in Cairo (AUC) organized a wedding ceremony for five orphan brides at AUC New Cairo. A team of 14 students spent four months preparing for the event, as well as equipping each new couple’s home with the necessary appliances and furniture.“The point of the event is to make the brides feel that their happiness is important to someone else,” said Menna ElBassiouny, VIA's housing and supplies head. “It’s not just about a party or about buying them things. The details are important, like them getting to choose their dresses, having their own cake and feeling like it is their day.”
VIA first chose the brides based on need, age and when they wanted to be married, then raised money to furnish their new apartments and hire staff and services for the wedding. “We tried to get the best wedding planner we could, and we had a makeup artist, a professional singer and photographers,” noted Haidy Shendy, VIA president.
The entire event and the furnishings for the couple’s new homes were funded entirely by donations, mostly from AUC students. Transportation was provided to and from AUC, as well as entertainment and meals during the six-hour ceremony.
Three hundred and fifty people attended the event; 60 guests per couple as well as 50 members and supporters of VIA. “One of the best moments of the wedding was the zaffa(procession), when the brides entered,” recalled ElBassiouny. “They all looked amazing in their dresses, and they were so happy and proud in front of everyone.”
In addition to the five brides who attended the ceremony, VIA runs an ongoing initiative to raise money for underprivileged newlyweds. The club has provided assistance to 26 other needy brides since last fall, raising money on campus and through a social media campaign to help them furnish their homes. "Our mission," affirmed Shendy, "is to improve orphans’ status and make them happy. We want to bring smiles to their faces.”