Saturday, January 18, 2014

Crawling through a muddy tunnel seeking treatment

From The Age, Melbourne's major newspaper, January 18, 2004, "Egypt Upheaval Plunges Gaza into Nightmare of Isolation and Darkness" by Middle East correspondent, Ruth Pollard:

...Sameeha, 25, whose honeymoon was thwarted by Egypt's border closures, is hoping to complete her PhD abroad. Again, this will involve a struggle with borders.
   Her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and as the disease progressed she became increasingly worried she was not getting the best car from Gaza's a;ready overstretched medical facilities. She applied for a permit to travel to a hospital in Israel but was rejected.
    Determined to stay alive for her family, she made her way through one of the hundreds of tunnels then operating between Gaza and Egypt to seek better treatment in Cairo.
   "'She crawled all the way from Gaza to Egypt, through a small tunnel, on her hands and knees through the mud, " Sameeha says.
    ""I remember my brother, who took her through the tunnel, coming back completely covered in mud and I thought, 'What had my my mother gone through?"

  Since I read those words I have not been able to get out of my mind or heart the image of a woman with cancer needing treatment being turned away at the border to a country that boasts always of its medical excellence, its brain power, its "civilized" self, a woman forced to crawl on her knees because young soldiers at a border judged her not worthy of treatment. I read these words as a breast cancer survivor who received excellent treatment in New York City and that is why I can write these words, ten year later. Now I must do something. First by letting you and others know and then trying to organize breast cancer survivors to take action against an occupation that forces desperate women to crawl through the mud of heartless states.

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