INTERVIEW: Together to Save a Human is a second chance at life, says chairman

Salonaz Sami, Wednesday 7 Jun 2023

​The Ministry of Social Solidarity's 2019 report revealed a staggering number of 12 million homeless individuals in Egypt, including three million children, with the numbers continuing to rise due to various factors, such as economic hardships and psychological challenges.

courtesy of : Together to save a Human (Egypt)


"There are several reasons for how people end up on the streets, and they vary from one person to another. We can say that there are economic reasons, like someone who is unable to look after himself and his family, is unable to look after him either, so they end up on the streets," Mahmoud Wahid, chairman of Together to Save a Human Organization, said to Ahram Online. 

"Another reason is a mental state, as a result of a psychological disorder, where the person or his family is unable to control or cope with the disease," he added. Age-related diseases are also a reason, according to Wahid, "like Alzheimer's, where a person could simply leave their house, get lost, and find nowhere to go but the streets." 

Last year, Minister of Social Solidarity Nevine El-Qabbaj convened with 22 nominated civil society organizations to discuss partnerships on the implementation of the national programme to protect homeless children and the elderly. The meeting discussed having these organizations manage mobile units allocated for the Children and Elderly without Shelter Programme. Among those organizations was Together to Save a Human, the country's first non-profit organization whose sole purpose is to help end homelessness in Egypt.

Together to Save a Human was founded in 2012 by a group of concerned citizens determined to help in any way they could. They founded the first homeless shelter for adults in Egypt in 2013, located in 6 October city with the capacity to hold only eight people. Now they have five branches across Cairo, housing hundreds of people from around the country.

It all started when Wahid came across an elderly homeless person who had so many wounds and scrapes on his body that weren't healing. "There were worms and pus and a few other things that weren't so pleasant, all over his body," said Wahid. The man was completely paralyzed. "Only his eyes were moving," he explained.

Wahid attempted to admit the man to 10 different hospitals but with no luck. "Because no hospital would admit a patient without a valid ID or at least a blood relative present," he said. It was then that it all started. It wasn't easy at the beginning, as Wahid couldn't get his shelter licensed for four years. "The government, at that time, only issued licences for elderly and children shelters. They didn't give permits for adult shelters," Wahid stated.

However, in 2016, Wahid was finally successful in getting the first licence for an adult shelter in Egypt. The shelter offers everything to their residents, including medical and psychological support, as well as providing employment opportunities. They also have a rescue team on call that roams the streets of Egypt at all times.

At first, the organisation only aimed to provide the homeless with their basic needs of food, shelter, and medical treatment until they could get back on their feet. But now they have taken it to the next step by providing them with job opportunities and arranging marriages between the men and women shelters, thus giving them the gift of family once again. As of the end of 2022, the organization was able to help over 28,000 cases.

The organization, which depends solely on donations, is adding three more branches to their existing five across the country. "The first is going to be in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Solidarity, and it is going to be the biggest women's shelter in Cairo with the capacity to take up to 250 women at a time," explained Wahid. The other two branches will be for the elderly and children in Nasr City and Alexandria. "It's in our future plans to open a hospital for the elderly, as well as a psychological one to be able to help more cases," said Wahid.

"Homeless people feel pain every time someone looks at them in disgust, ashamed of themselves and insecure about their wounds, longing for the affection many of us take for granted. We try giving them a second chance at life and the opportunity to experience it to its full potential," Wahid said.

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