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One woman's campaign to care for Egypt's wounded

In the build-up to expected violence 30 June, Egyptian aid worker Loubna Moharam says the president has turned his back on the country's revolutionary heros

Dina Ezzat, Thursday 27 Jun 2013
Egypt
Protesters opposed to Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi evacuate an injured fellow protester during clashes between supporters of Morsi and their rivals in front of the presidential palace in Cairo (AP)
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With enormous resolve, Loubna Moharam, a dedicated charity worker, is piling up medical supplies in anticipation of a "new wave of blood" that she and many others fear will come with 30 June demonstrations Sunday demanding President Mohamed Morsi’s resignation on the one-year anniversary of his inauguration.

“I would hope and pray to see Morsi bowing to the will of the people without any violence or bloodshed. But what we have seen does not suggest that this is a possibility. My fear is that we are going to have long protests with many victims and many injured yet again,” Mouhram said as she was storing helmets and gas masks.

 

“We are getting ready for a sad but realistic scenario. We are calling on the doctors and pharmacists who volunteer with us, and we are piling up donations of basic medical supplies and we are praying for mercy,” Moharam said.

 

For this lady, an engineer with a history of nearly two decades of charity work, the fear of what is coming is tinged with images of pain and agony from the past two years. She has been working hard, at times fighting hard, to help the injured get proper medical treatment so that they can go on with their lives as normally as possible.

 

In the 2011 revolution with her husband and three children, Moharam found herself day after day carrying the wounded to receive emergency medical aid. When the 18-day revolution came to an end, Moharam was hopeful that the Supreme Council for the Armed Forces (SCAF), whose leaders publicly saluted the sacrifices made in the name of freedom and justice, would pay attention to the injured and make sure they received top medical treatment.

 

“Unfortunately, we were dismayed and we came to realise that it would not at all be easy to get the state to support the medical needs and rehabilitation of these terrific young men and women who made such enormous sacrifices for this country,” Moharam said.

 

Working with a group of other volunteers, Moharam started collecting donations to help those overlooked by the state. One way or another, she managed to help in some cases.

 

“Some received medical treatment and surgeries here with a group of brilliant doctors who were so kindly working with us, while others were sent overseas for specialised and delicate therapy. We tried to do the best possible,” she said.

 

There are around five groups, mostly chaired by women, tending to the thousands who were injured since the early days of the revolution. “Many cases still await delayed treatment. We are trying our best, but this was not supposed to be something only for civil society to attend to,” Moharam said. “This was supposed to be something for the state to worry about ... Instead of helping, the state was simply enlarging the numbers of injured.”

 

Having attended to the injured in anti-SCAF protests in November and December of 2011, with some of her children’s best friends among those severely injured, Moharam realised that “SCAF would not deliver.” She then hoped for a president who would be committed to her cause.

 

“Morsi had said he would. I was sceptical, but I said to myself, this is the least he could do for those whose sacrifices made it possible for him to go from [political prisoner] to president. Unfortunately, the disappointment was equal to, if not worse than, what I faced with SCAF,” Moharam said.

 

Her complaints against Morsi begin with the fund that was supposed to provide financial and medical assistance to the injured. “Under the rule of one member of the Muslim Brotherhood, [the fund has] chosen to turn its back to the victims and to ignore their repeated appeals for a kinder treatment,” she said.

 

Moharam offers numerous examples of cases that needed surgery overseas but were denied funding, or that needed expensive medication and were not granted permits to receive it for free at a public hospital.

 

“It has been a nightmare. We have been doing our best, but our best is not good enough — certainly not with the increased number of victims who have been wounded during anti-Morsi protests,” she said.

 

Moreover, Moharam added, “the economic challenges that the country is facing have eaten up significantly the donations that we were collecting to cover medication, treatment and therapy for the injured, on whom the state has turned its back over and over again.”

 

Moharam said that many of the hundreds of cases that she has been attending to are determined, despite the hardship, "to join the 30 June demonstrations.”

 

“I cannot stop them. They know it would be hard for them, but they are people who feel frustrated and betrayed,” she added.

 

Moharam herself said that she is joining the demonstrations of 30 June.

 

“Sometimes I go to sleep and have nightmares about my children being killed in one of the demonstrations. When I wake up I am terrified, but I am aware at this moment, maybe more than any other moment, that the only way to end this fear is for justice to be done and for freedom to be attained. If these objectives remain elusive, the pain would continue. It is as simple as that.”

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