Giza and Cairo, Egypt—16-year-old Abanoub J. Armanious had completed his sophomore year at Bayonne High School in 2017 when he decided to establish Save the Children of the Developing World (SCDW)—a tax-exempt nonprofit dedicated to improving the wellbeing of children living in third-world countries. Now, six years later, Armanious has graduated from Rutgers University-New Brunswick with a double major in Public Health and Cell Biology & Neuroscience and a minor in Religion. As a first-generation American and college student with aspirations to become a physician-scientist, Armanious founded the organization after traveling to Egypt and Ecuador and observing the dire economic conditions and the lack of a social safety net.
“When I walked along the streets of Egypt and Ecuador, I saw malnourished children working arduous jobs,” he said. “If they had access to basic educational and nutritional resources, that would not have been the case and so, I vowed that when I came home, I would try to make a difference.”
Armanious learned very quickly, however, that running a global, children’s nonprofit would require the support of many dedicated individuals, which is why he enlisted the help of some of his college-aged friends from across Rutgers University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, and George Washington University. Together, they have served as officers, directors, committee members, and general advisors when they are not studying and working towards their career goals as clinicians, engineers, lawyers, and so on. Many of them are from racial and ethnic minorities with disadvantaged backgrounds, fueled by the desire to support the next generation in pursuing their interests and becoming the people they dream to be. One of these individuals is 26-year-old Ramez Asham.
Asham was born and raised in Egypt until the age of 10, when he immigrated to the United States with his family. Witnessing the abundance of resources Americans have at their fingertips motivated him to help those who were less fortunate. He began doing exactly that when he graduated from Rutgers University and connected with Armanious in 2020 about the possibility of collaborating on humanitarian efforts through SCDW. Since then, Asham has served as the Programs Committee Member overseeing the organization’s efforts in Egypt, while pursuing dental school. His passion for dentistry expanded SCDW’s humanitarian efforts by fostering partnerships with Egypt Without Disease and Mobile Smiles—two nonprofits dedicated to developing a healthier future for Egypt and other developing countries. Together, they were able to reach underserved areas, treat patients, and bring awareness about oral health and hygiene.
SCDW has focused on advancing accessibility to quality healthcare services and necessities since its founding through their Project Health. Previously, the organization provided 180 children from across 100 families in Arenillas—a canton located in the El Oro Province of Ecuador—with boxes of nonperishable food items that included tuna, sardines, lentils, red beans, pasta, sugar, salt, oatmeal, cooking oil, and rice. They have also made an effort to provide personal hygiene products to a whole slew of orphanages in Cairo, Egypt and personal protective equipment to health clinics, namely the Operation Smile Clinic in Quito, Ecuador.
This latest launch of Project Health in Egypt provided a total of 650 individuals from across the Giza and Cairo governorates with dental care, making it SCDW’s most impactful launch to date. The mobile clinic started in the town of Atfeh in Giza and the volunteering clinicians performed examinations, fluoride treatments, and extractions and restorations, totaling 197 community members having benefited. They then traveled to the Mokattam and Manshiyat Naser regions of Cairo to continue their work in support of 405 additional children, including 45 who they were connected with through the Renee Foundation for the Handicapped. Their work ended back in Giza, specifically the town of Werdan, where they supported a final 48 patients. In all regions SCDW impacted, they also administered educational seminars on oral hygiene and gave each patient a goodie bag with a toothbrush, toothpaste, and mouthwash.
“There is always a power in coming together and having the same mission in mind. This project was the starting point for, not only dental mission trips, but also raising awareness about overall health. I believe change starts with education, and seeing children brush their teeth and learn about hygiene excites me about the potential our mission has,” Asham said.
SCDW looks forward to partnering with more like-minded nonprofits to promote the wellbeing of children living in developing countries, not only in aspects of health, but education and shelter as well. Their efforts, as a public charity, rely on the financial contributions of their supporters and so, they urge more communities to get involved by donating and or creating student chapters and fundraisers. Any donation, small or large, will help support their mission and allow them to continue the invaluable work they are doing.
About Save the Children of the Developing World (SCDW): SCDW is a NJ Nonprofit Corporation based in Bayonne, New Jersey and managed by a group of diverse, young adults who are dedicated to improving the wellbeing of children living in third-world countries by providing them with the tools to pursue their interests and become the person they dream to be. They have been ranked Platinum on Guidestar—a nonprofit information service—for being transparent on their different projects and how they have worked towards fulfilling their mission.