INTERVIEW: 'Donations, social media campaign building Egypt's 25 January Hospital'

Marina Barsoum , Sunday 12 May 2019

"I encourage everyone to believe in their dreams even if they seem impossible. Work hard, have faith and you will see the fruits of your will and determination," says journalist who heads 25 Jan trustee board

Pictures of the January 25 Hospital in Al-Shabraween village (Photos courtesy of Mohamed El-Garhy)

"People once thought I would not see my dream come true, but here we are, with God's help and the help of everyone who supported my idea," Mohamed El-Garhy, head of the January 25 Hospital board of trustees, told Ahram Online

The seven-storey hospital at El-Shabraween, a village in Egypt’s Nile Delta governorate of Sharqiya, about 110 kilometres northeast of Cairo, has been a dream of journalist Mohamed El-Garhy’s since he lost his son in 2011.

The hospital aims to provide the 8 million citizens of Sharqiya governorate with medical services free of charge.

El-Garhy, a journalist by trade who has long dreamt of building a hospital to serve needy citizens at El-Shabraween, recently tweeted that he is EGP 5 million short of realising his dream. 

The ambitious journalist told his sizeable Twitter following on Saturday that the amount is needed for two elevators, electrical infrastructure, a fence, water tanks, and medical equipment. 

Following El-Garhy’s tweet, Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris pledged on his Twitter account that he would match donations to the hospital until the EGP 5 million goal is reached.


‘Twitter fundraised our dream’

"I believe that this is the first project that has been built entirely through social media," El-Garhy said.

“We initially started doing callouts on social media because we wanted to raise money for the village. By the end of 2012, we had a bigger dream in our sights to move from a medical centre to building a full-fledged, high quality hospital,” El-Garhy explained.

El-Garhy says he wanted to build the hospital “to serve the people of my village, who are totally deprived of any humane medical services. At first we started with a small medical centre, then I decided that it was not enough so I thought of building an entire hospital."

El-Garhy said that despite facing many challenges in getting the hospital built, "with God's help and with the support of everyone on social media and outside social media, I have seen my hard work over the past few years bear fruit."

Outpatient clinics - Labs on the second floor

Many parts of rural areas and the south of the country have long suffered from inadequate or scarce medical services.

However, the government has recently embarked on an ambitious plan to revamp the country's healthcare system, with a plan to start implementing a new universal healthcare system.

Private donations have also contributed to the building of a number of top-of-the-art hospitals providing many ordinary Egyptians with access to treatment for serious illnesses such as heart diseases and Cancer.

In 2016, El-Garhy said, the project raised over EGP 5 million ($636,000) over the preceding four years.

The smallest donations trickled in as low as EGP 5 (0.62 US cents) and as large as EGP 400,000 ($50,000), he explained.

An SMS hotline was set up where people could donate a minimum of EGP 5, and those looking to make larger donations can pay more using credit cards, cash, or checks.

January 25 Hospital 

El-Garhy told Ahram Online that the hospital registered as a non-profit organisation in 2011 with the Ministry of Social Solidarity.

The seven storeys of the hospital have already been built according to specifications approved by the Ministry of Health, El-Garhy said.

"The hospital was constructed under the supervision of THE, an engineering company that oversaw the building of the Orman Healing Hospital in Luxor," El-Garhy said. 

25 January hospital

"I encourage everyone to believe in their dreams even if they seem impossible. Work hard, have faith and you will see the fruits of your will and determination," says El-Garhy.

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