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Mama Maggie: The Untold Story of One Woman's Mission to Love the Forgotten Children of Egypt's Garbage Slums

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From marketing maven to angel of the garbage district—the inspiring authorized biography of Maggie Gobran, the “Mother Teresa of Egypt.” Since 1997, Maggie Gobran and her organization Stephen’s Children have been changing lives in Cairo’s notorious zabala, or garbage slums. Her innovative, transformational work has garnered worldwide fame and multiple Nobel Prize nomination From marketing maven to angel of the garbage district—the inspiring authorized biography of Maggie Gobran, the “Mother Teresa of Egypt.” Since 1997, Maggie Gobran and her organization Stephen’s Children have been changing lives in Cairo’s notorious zabala, or garbage slums. Her innovative, transformational work has garnered worldwide fame and multiple Nobel Prize nominations, but her full story has remained untold—until now.  Bestselling authors Martin Makary and Ellen Vaughn chronicle Mama Maggie’s surprising pilgrimage from privileged child to stylish businesswoman to college professor pondering God’s call to change. She answered that call by becoming the modest figure in white who daily navigates piles of stinking trash, bringing hope to the poorest of the poor. Smart and savvy, as tough as she is tender, Maggie Gobran is utterly surrendered to her mission to the “garbage people” who captured her heart.  At her request, the book also spotlights the people she serves—the men, women, and children who prove every day what a little bit of help and a lot of love can do.


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From marketing maven to angel of the garbage district—the inspiring authorized biography of Maggie Gobran, the “Mother Teresa of Egypt.” Since 1997, Maggie Gobran and her organization Stephen’s Children have been changing lives in Cairo’s notorious zabala, or garbage slums. Her innovative, transformational work has garnered worldwide fame and multiple Nobel Prize nomination From marketing maven to angel of the garbage district—the inspiring authorized biography of Maggie Gobran, the “Mother Teresa of Egypt.” Since 1997, Maggie Gobran and her organization Stephen’s Children have been changing lives in Cairo’s notorious zabala, or garbage slums. Her innovative, transformational work has garnered worldwide fame and multiple Nobel Prize nominations, but her full story has remained untold—until now.  Bestselling authors Martin Makary and Ellen Vaughn chronicle Mama Maggie’s surprising pilgrimage from privileged child to stylish businesswoman to college professor pondering God’s call to change. She answered that call by becoming the modest figure in white who daily navigates piles of stinking trash, bringing hope to the poorest of the poor. Smart and savvy, as tough as she is tender, Maggie Gobran is utterly surrendered to her mission to the “garbage people” who captured her heart.  At her request, the book also spotlights the people she serves—the men, women, and children who prove every day what a little bit of help and a lot of love can do.

30 review for Mama Maggie: The Untold Story of One Woman's Mission to Love the Forgotten Children of Egypt's Garbage Slums

  1. 4 out of 5

    A.K. Frailey

    This was a hard book to finish because it is so inspiring; I would like to keep getting updates - what is happening now? How are Mamma Maggie and her wonderful friends making the world better today? This isn't some hero-in-the-sky type of book where the reader is lost in wonder, but rather a look at the fulfillment of our calling to serve as Jesus serves, to love as God loves. The messages are very powerful and will stay with me forever. Lots of great quotes. I will be passing this book along to This was a hard book to finish because it is so inspiring; I would like to keep getting updates - what is happening now? How are Mamma Maggie and her wonderful friends making the world better today? This isn't some hero-in-the-sky type of book where the reader is lost in wonder, but rather a look at the fulfillment of our calling to serve as Jesus serves, to love as God loves. The messages are very powerful and will stay with me forever. Lots of great quotes. I will be passing this book along to others.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kirsten

    Two and a half stars really, for a wonderful inspiring story told in a way that to struggled to engage with. I definitely prefer a narrative style biography, and this felt like a series of editorials - never quite getting to know individuals well enough. It felt like looking at thumbnails of photos, when I really wanted the full length movie. Nevertheless, I enjoyed getting to know a culture and country that I don’t know well, and of course the inspirational Mama Maggie.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    An inspiring story of a modern day Mother Teresa to Egypt. I would highly recommend the audio version as the reader's British accent is silk for the soul! A must read. An inspiring story of a modern day Mother Teresa to Egypt. I would highly recommend the audio version as the reader's British accent is silk for the soul! A must read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ms. Martian

    I had a hard time putting this book down. Mama Maggie's life is so inspiring; Until I read this book, I had no idea who she was. Now I want to emulate her. Her love for all people is rare and the way she so humbly shows that love is even rarer. I had a hard time putting this book down. Mama Maggie's life is so inspiring; Until I read this book, I had no idea who she was. Now I want to emulate her. Her love for all people is rare and the way she so humbly shows that love is even rarer.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lynette

    If only this world had more Mama Maggie's so so giving, loving and unselfish. If only this world had more Mama Maggie's so so giving, loving and unselfish.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    "She doesn't do ministry. She is ministry." -the writers about Mama Maggie "Silence your tongue to listen to your thoughts. Silence your thought to listen to your heart beating. Silence your heart to listen to your spirit. And silence your spirit to listen to His spirit." -Mama Maggie "I know that God has started something good in every one of us. I ask that God would make his grace bigger in all of us. We can have a new start every day, every hour. He can make all things new as we trust in him." -M "She doesn't do ministry. She is ministry." -the writers about Mama Maggie "Silence your tongue to listen to your thoughts. Silence your thought to listen to your heart beating. Silence your heart to listen to your spirit. And silence your spirit to listen to His spirit." -Mama Maggie "I know that God has started something good in every one of us. I ask that God would make his grace bigger in all of us. We can have a new start every day, every hour. He can make all things new as we trust in him." -Mama Maggie Mama Maggie believes in "not just helping human bodies but nourishing human souls." She washes the feet of the children in the garbage slums of Egypt. She helps the children dream and hope. She teaches them about Jesus. She lives a praying life. Maggie Groban gave up her stylish life to serve and the children she serves call her Mama Maggie. I had no idea that some people live this way among the garbage dumps with dogs, cats, and rats. There are many heartbreaking stories in this book, but Mama Maggie seeks to help heal the wounded, the poor in spirit. She truly is ministry.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Koren

    I did not know there was such a thing as garbage slums in Cairo Egypt. The people that live in them are so poor that they sort through garbage to make money to live. Mama Maggie is a woman who lived a life of luxury to work in the slums and help the people, especially the children. She is almost a Mother Theresa type person. Very inspirational. I couldn't help but wonder what the world would be like if there were more Mama Maggies in the world. This is a quick read. I did not know there was such a thing as garbage slums in Cairo Egypt. The people that live in them are so poor that they sort through garbage to make money to live. Mama Maggie is a woman who lived a life of luxury to work in the slums and help the people, especially the children. She is almost a Mother Theresa type person. Very inspirational. I couldn't help but wonder what the world would be like if there were more Mama Maggies in the world. This is a quick read.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Amaka

    A book that challenges your values and makes you ponder the source of true joy and happiness in this very world. Couldn’t recommend it enough.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Linda Murphy

    It is hard for me to believe that I had never heard of Mama Maggie before reading this book. Clearly God has his "angels of mercy" working quietly in many places, unheard of by most of us. But Mama Maggie is not doing her works of mercy in order to be noticed; she is quietly serving the Lord by serving the least of these. Reading about Mama Maggie brought to mind others who have gone before her such as Mother Teresa and Amy Carmichael. Maggie grew up with much privilege in a well-to-do Christian It is hard for me to believe that I had never heard of Mama Maggie before reading this book. Clearly God has his "angels of mercy" working quietly in many places, unheard of by most of us. But Mama Maggie is not doing her works of mercy in order to be noticed; she is quietly serving the Lord by serving the least of these. Reading about Mama Maggie brought to mind others who have gone before her such as Mother Teresa and Amy Carmichael. Maggie grew up with much privilege in a well-to-do Christian home in Egypt. She was educated, popular, and very well-situated. But God would not leave her there. Now Maggie spends all of her time serving families in the garbage slums outside of Cairo. She does not attempt to draw attention to herself, yet many are drawn nonetheless. She has a small army of helpers who carry out the extensive work that she does, bringing hope to the seemingly hopeless. I was delighted to read one chapter about a young woman from the Chattanooga area (my area as well!) whose life was affected by Maggie. This young woman, at age 16, met Maggie through her parents who were involved with International Justice Mission. She longed to work with Maggie in Egypt, but she was prevented from going due to health concerns. However, she is now a cardiovascular intensive care nurse at a children's hospital in Alabama because of her passion to serve those who have serious needs. Serving does not need to take place only in Egypt. This book challenges my use of the words "need" and "worth". It upends my entire way of thinking. And that is a good thing. It is a story that needs to be told.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Andy Zach

    Normally, I never give books 5 stars unless they're great and still selling fifty years after publication. But with 'Mama Maggie', the biography of Maggie Gobran of Egypt, I gladly make an exception. Here's why. Maggie Gobran began her ministry among the poor Copts living in the garbage slums of Cairo in the 80s. Thirty years later she and her ministry are still going strong, and over thirty thousand people are helped daily through her schools, hospitals, and businesses she's started. I have full Normally, I never give books 5 stars unless they're great and still selling fifty years after publication. But with 'Mama Maggie', the biography of Maggie Gobran of Egypt, I gladly make an exception. Here's why. Maggie Gobran began her ministry among the poor Copts living in the garbage slums of Cairo in the 80s. Thirty years later she and her ministry are still going strong, and over thirty thousand people are helped daily through her schools, hospitals, and businesses she's started. I have full confidence in her work and ministry and in God, that this work will continue to grow for another fifty years from now. Mama Maggie has been called 'the Mother Teresa of Cairo' and it fits her and her ministry well. She serves the lowest level of society and lifts them up to human dignity. However, where Mother Teresa began as a nun, Maggie Gobran began as a wealthy, highly educated woman, superb at marketing and married to a wealthy businessman. Then, in her thirties, she chose to give it all away to serve the poor of Cairo. The book covers Maggie's childhood and how her pious aunt influenced her throughout her life. The book shows her success at school and business, her fun-loving, high-fashion lifestyle--and why it wasn't enough. Only in serving the poorest did she find fulfillment. I recommend this book for any Christian who wants a Christ-like example to copy and for any non-Christian who wants to imagine what Jesus Christ would do in today's world.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    amazing, beautiful, inspiring story <33 however, the book would have been better with a different writing style. this was sort of ... too factual, too journalistic, too much like a report. a more narrative, story telling, chronological style would have been much more immersive. (that's why the 4 starts.) still, the content was gold. if the Benges would write this story as a Christian Heroes: Then and Now book I'd much appreciate !!! amazing, beautiful, inspiring story <33 however, the book would have been better with a different writing style. this was sort of ... too factual, too journalistic, too much like a report. a more narrative, story telling, chronological style would have been much more immersive. (that's why the 4 starts.) still, the content was gold. if the Benges would write this story as a Christian Heroes: Then and Now book I'd much appreciate !!!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Heather Martinez

    A very good book overall. This is a autobiography about a woman named Mama Maggie. She created a mission organization in Cairo, Egypt to help the slums of her homeland, called Stephen's Children. The people are called Zabaleen: The garbage people. Her ministry went into the garbage slums and cared primarily for the children but also their families. It is a story of love and God's grace upon His people. It shows how one person can change a whole people group. Some of the stories are heartbreaking A very good book overall. This is a autobiography about a woman named Mama Maggie. She created a mission organization in Cairo, Egypt to help the slums of her homeland, called Stephen's Children. The people are called Zabaleen: The garbage people. Her ministry went into the garbage slums and cared primarily for the children but also their families. It is a story of love and God's grace upon His people. It shows how one person can change a whole people group. Some of the stories are heartbreaking but God's love shines forth through the stories. The book tells the story of how her ministry in Cairo, Egypt began and what it is still doing to this day to help the Zabaleen.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Eric Miller

    The message of "Mama Maggie" is that to love like Christ means going low and slow with the poor and marginalized, seeing Christ in the places we prefer to avoid altogether. Her story of giving up a well-to-do lifestyle to serve the poor in the garbage dumps of Cairo is an inspiring and particularly relevant call to action for affluent Western Christians. While the last two or so chapters detailing the volatile political environment serving as the backdrop of Maggie Gobran's ministry seem, at fir The message of "Mama Maggie" is that to love like Christ means going low and slow with the poor and marginalized, seeing Christ in the places we prefer to avoid altogether. Her story of giving up a well-to-do lifestyle to serve the poor in the garbage dumps of Cairo is an inspiring and particularly relevant call to action for affluent Western Christians. While the last two or so chapters detailing the volatile political environment serving as the backdrop of Maggie Gobran's ministry seem, at first blush, extraneous, I could hardly put the book down and highly recommend it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lillian

    A well-written, well-researched book. And at the same time, very inspiring. Mama Maggie is a wonderful lady! Whether she realizes it or not, she has inspired not just people she has met or has influence over, but also many more through this book about her. She is truly, as the book says, Jesus to so many. And her life, daily, as she lives out "be still and know that I am God", is a witness. Oh, that I could be like that! A well-written, well-researched book. And at the same time, very inspiring. Mama Maggie is a wonderful lady! Whether she realizes it or not, she has inspired not just people she has met or has influence over, but also many more through this book about her. She is truly, as the book says, Jesus to so many. And her life, daily, as she lives out "be still and know that I am God", is a witness. Oh, that I could be like that!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sami Bahna

    I received "Mama Maggie" as a gift. The TOC enhanced my appetite. While I was reading, I felt as being indulging in a very delicious spiritual meal. I refrained from reading more than a few chapters a day so that the meal lasts longer! And I will read it again. What an exceptional genuine servant "saint"!! I was so blessed by Maggie's life. I ordered some copies as meaningful gifts for friends. I received "Mama Maggie" as a gift. The TOC enhanced my appetite. While I was reading, I felt as being indulging in a very delicious spiritual meal. I refrained from reading more than a few chapters a day so that the meal lasts longer! And I will read it again. What an exceptional genuine servant "saint"!! I was so blessed by Maggie's life. I ordered some copies as meaningful gifts for friends.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lynne Waterman

    Inspiring An amazing story of Mama Maggie and her commitment to love the least of these. I pray I can love selflessly and draw close to my God in prayer and silence. May I practice presence and intentionality with the people placed in my life.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    Excellent. Phenomenal. Inspiring. Challenging.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rachel B

    I have mixed feelings about this book. It is supposedly a biography of "Mama" Maggie Gobran, who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for her work with the poor of Egypt. At her insistence, the book also talks quite a bit about her colleagues working with the nonprofit she began, Stephan's Children. These were the parts I liked best. There isn't really much here about Gobran's early life, and the authors write about her with stars in their eyes. Most biographies will acknowledge that all humans h I have mixed feelings about this book. It is supposedly a biography of "Mama" Maggie Gobran, who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for her work with the poor of Egypt. At her insistence, the book also talks quite a bit about her colleagues working with the nonprofit she began, Stephan's Children. These were the parts I liked best. There isn't really much here about Gobran's early life, and the authors write about her with stars in their eyes. Most biographies will acknowledge that all humans have strengths and weaknesses, and will explore both relating to their chosen subject. This biography conveniently ignores any mention of Gobran's flaws, and goes on and on about how great she is. Even though Jesus is mentioned, and I believe Gobran would have wanted Him to be exalted, the authors seem to value Gobran more than Him. There are also a couple instances of Gobran "prophesying," aka predicting the future - this was a huge red flag to me. I believe that Jesus was the last Prophet and that He fulfilled all prophecy, so anyone today with the gift of "prophecy," if you will, really just has a gift to boldly speak the Truth about Jesus and His kingdom - not clairvoyance. There is also repeated mention of "Christians" who have never actually heard of Jesus. I wish the authors had done a better job of distinguishing actual Christians from nonbelievers, who identify with the title "Christian" culturally, but do not actually follow Jesus Christ. I do appreciate that the Gospel is spelled out in the pages of this book, but I don't feel like it necessarily qualifies as a "biography." Side note: The formatting of this book left a ton of fully blank pages. What a waste of paper!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lily

    I really enjoyed this book about Maggie Gobran who grew up wealthy in Egypt, and then felt a call to the needy in her late 30's or so. She lived a high society life: bejeweled, well-traveled, educated (becoming a professor), and married with children. She then pretty much lived among the garbage slums of Cairo since she was among them almost every day for years. She did go home to her comfortable home, but she sold her jewelry, fancy clothes, and furs. She dresses very simply in all white with I really enjoyed this book about Maggie Gobran who grew up wealthy in Egypt, and then felt a call to the needy in her late 30's or so. She lived a high society life: bejeweled, well-traveled, educated (becoming a professor), and married with children. She then pretty much lived among the garbage slums of Cairo since she was among them almost every day for years. She did go home to her comfortable home, but she sold her jewelry, fancy clothes, and furs. She dresses very simply in all white with a scarf, her shoes are simple brown sandals. She gets down in the dirt with the people of the slums, washing their feet, listening to them, and helping their extended families. She mostly started with the children, founding schools and feeding them. She is quoted a lot in the biography, even though in her life now she has become mostly quiet. Each chapter begins with a quote from someone else--a famous author, a religious figure, or just a noted person. She is a Christian, making no excuses for that--so, scripture is used often. She ministers to all religions, though. She still travels to speak or visit family. Evidently, Egyptians are very family oriented. She is in her 60's now, so she mostly oversees Stephen's Children. She still goes out to the people frequently. There are some great color photos in the book, too. I checked online for more pictures and information.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    p. 203, "I have for many years endeavored to make this vital truth clear; and still people marvel when I tell them that I am happy. They imagine that my limitations weigh heavily upon my spirit, and chain me to the rock of despair. Yet, it seems to me, happiness has very little to do with the senses. If we make up our minds that this is a drab and purposeless universe, it will be that, and nothing else. On the other hand, if we believe that the earth is ours, and that the sun and moon hang in th p. 203, "I have for many years endeavored to make this vital truth clear; and still people marvel when I tell them that I am happy. They imagine that my limitations weigh heavily upon my spirit, and chain me to the rock of despair. Yet, it seems to me, happiness has very little to do with the senses. If we make up our minds that this is a drab and purposeless universe, it will be that, and nothing else. On the other hand, if we believe that the earth is ours, and that the sun and moon hang in the sky for our delight, there will be joy upon the hills and gladness in the fields because the Artist in our souls glorifies creation. Surely, it gives dignity to life to believe that we are born into this world for noble ends, and that we have a higher destiny than can be accomplished within the narrow limits of this physical life." -Helen Keller

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    This woman came from a very successful and wealthy background to start a ministry for the poor of Cairo, Egypt, and her organization is doing a tremendous job. She gives all credit to the Lord and her Christian heritage, and she insists that those who assist the ministry get credit. She shows a humility in her position that is admirable. Having said that - after getting about halfway into the book, I had had about enough, because she is portrayed as being absolutely angelic. While books don't ha This woman came from a very successful and wealthy background to start a ministry for the poor of Cairo, Egypt, and her organization is doing a tremendous job. She gives all credit to the Lord and her Christian heritage, and she insists that those who assist the ministry get credit. She shows a humility in her position that is admirable. Having said that - after getting about halfway into the book, I had had about enough, because she is portrayed as being absolutely angelic. While books don't have to point out all the flaws of the missionary heroes, as one I read recently did - this one was far to the other extreme. The woman was portrayed as being suffocatingly perfect. I also did not care for the format in which each chapter was stand-alone. However, I was inspired by the message and felt like my eyes were opened to the plight of the people in those slums.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Hannah K

    Wow, this was an incredible picture of a woman who was transformed by God's grace and sacrificed her life to serve the poor. It was very moving, inspiring me to surrender more fully to God and serve others. The way it was written, the story was told kind of sporadically and with facts more than a continuous narrative. It could have been written better, but the content was nonetheless very impactful. Wow, this was an incredible picture of a woman who was transformed by God's grace and sacrificed her life to serve the poor. It was very moving, inspiring me to surrender more fully to God and serve others. The way it was written, the story was told kind of sporadically and with facts more than a continuous narrative. It could have been written better, but the content was nonetheless very impactful.

  23. 4 out of 5

    M.J.

    Mama Maggie is a true inspiration for being compassionate toward others and following the path we feel we are meant to lead in life. I enjoyed reading about her transformation and I learned quite a lot about Coptic Christians in Egypt and the history and unfortunate discrimination they face. Their resilience and community is remarkable!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Josalyn

    This woman is fascinating and inspiring. The book felt scattered to me. I would say it’s more of a documentary of Mamma Maggie’s work than it is the story of her life. But I suppose that’s how she would want it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Christie

    An amazing story. An amazing person. And THE MOST BORING BOOK WITH NO FLOW. There was no real plot to this. It wasn’t an interview. It was a collective of religious quotes and moments. I’m not religious. So. It just fell flat for me. I love what they’re doing for the kids. But. Meh.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Beth Butler

    Inspiring. I great look at how one person can make a huge difference in many lives. I enjoyed seeing how Mama Maggie's entire life including her business background set the stage for her to be so instrumental in helping the people of the garbage slums. Inspiring. I great look at how one person can make a huge difference in many lives. I enjoyed seeing how Mama Maggie's entire life including her business background set the stage for her to be so instrumental in helping the people of the garbage slums.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Briana Breneman

    I believe that Mama Maggie is an amazing woman and is doing wonderful things in Cairo. Unfortunately, this book was very hard to get through. The chapters did not flow together and the story was super choppy.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Colleen

    I really, really enjoyed this read. The first I had ever heard of Maggie Gobran. Such a beautiful story and I recommend it to anyone.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Phenicie

    Wow! This woman is amazing and inspiring.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jaclyn

    Mama Maggie and Mother Teresa have very similiar biographies with helping the poorest of the poor . The stories of the students Maggie helped really make you believe in good in people.

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