Nehal is a very close Egyptian friend of mine who lives in Cairo (we spent a lot of time together during my year abroad back in 2013). She is a very intelligent and independent person who has never been known to ask for anything. She reached out to me a few days ago desperately asking for help, as she has been struggling to survive since the pandemic struck Egypt's already crumbling economy and she lost her job. This is a situation that she couldn't have planned for.
Nehal recently developed two serious chronic medical conditions, hypothyroidism and diabetes. This means she will have to see a doctor for tests and consultations once a month for the rest of her life so that the correct dosage of medication can be prescribed to her. Hypothyroidism also affects the white blood cells which lowers her immunity significantly. All this puts her in a particularly 'vulnerable category'. In Egypt, all healthcare is private and very expensive. She has no choice but to pay each time she has her necessary medical appointments, on top of paying for her expensive cocktail of medicine each month (and the amount she needs can vary significantly). Nehal can't even afford food to eat, and has told me that she had been surviving on carrots and plain bread for the past month (this will run out in a couple of days). She is also behind on rent by 2 months, and her landlord has threatened to evict her if she misses another month.
Egypt has been going through a recession for some time now. Nehal was only just managing to make ends meet before the pandemic, and it is likely to get worse and take a long time to recover. Egypt also has massive issues with misogyny, which makes it extra difficult to find sustainable work as a women during a time where job opportunities are scarce. She had an unstable job as an assistant director for a small film company that could only pay her whenever they had projects (usually once of twice a year for a few weeks), and from time to time she found casual work translating texts (but because she is not a qualified translator she could only find poorly paid one-off jobs). The media company she worked for were working on a documentary just before the pandemic spread, but this had to be cancelled and so she lost her job.
The cost of living has gone up drastically since the Covid-19 outbreak, yet the wages and job opportunities have greatly reduced. Even basic groceries are proportionately high. She is unable to live with her mother or her siblings and they are unable to give her financial help, as they are equally struggling and living in poverty (she is the oldest, and has traditionally been the one who supports them). Close friends in Cairo are also unable to help her, as, in these uncertain times, they are having to hold onto any savings they have to guarantee support for their own families. Nehal has sold everything valuable that she owns, and had to sell her laptop as a last resort yesterday (she got 800EGP = £39). This covered her doctor's consultation this month, but she still needs to somehow pay for her medication (and food and rent..). All she has left is her (very cheap) mobile phone, which I really want her to hold onto for her own safety and wellbeing. It's of course the only way we can communicate. Insight into Nehal's situation has been very sobering and helped me appreciate the relative comfort of our social system and economy.
Nehal is determined to find a job of any kind to help sustain herself over these hard times, but with her current circumstances and the uncertainties ahead, she urgently needs some guaranteed financial security to support her physical and mental health while she searches for a job over the coming months. Her health is deteriorating fast and she is in a lot of pain.
I am very concerned about Nehal, as she is in a very dangerous & stressful situation. I really wish I was in a position to financially help her more, but I thought that by reaching out to the wider community and asking people to contribute what they can, we could really help transform Nehal's current situation and give her some support to get back on her feet. I believe that as a human community, we should look out for each other where we can. I know that money may be tight for many of us, but through collective kindness we could really make a difference without compromising our own security.
Breakdown of Nehal's monthly costs:
Food & Toiletries - aprox. 4500 Egyptian Pounds (EGP) ~ £218
(Nehal needs to have a special diet to help manage her conditions, she also can only drink bottled water due to her low immunity and poor liver function)
Medication: 1600 EGP ~ £79 (vitamins for low immunity & treatment for hypothyroidism- radioactive iodine)
Doctor consultation - 650 EGP ~ £31.50
Blood tests (for thyroid hormones & general blood test), and liver & kidney function tests = 2000 EGP ~ £97
Rent - 3000 EGP + 300 EGP for utilities = 3300 EGP ~ £159
Nehal is hoping to have the next 3 months covered as well as her over-due rent of 2 months covered at least. We have discussed an initial target of £1,754 (£1800) + an extra £200 to cover for any additional emergency medication (with the lifestyle she has been living over the past 3 months and almost a month's worth of missed medication, she is likely to experience a few complications over the next few weeks because of this):
-> £1,954 rounded up to £2000.
But ANY sum of money would help her a lot!
I understand that support for 3 months might seem like an excessive target to some, but her life is in danger, and knowing that she has some time to secure a sustainable situation for herself (which I know is going to be a very challenging task) would be a massive boost for her mental health, as well as her physical health.
£623 will cover her medication, doctor's appointments & tests for 3 months.
£1277 will cover her medication, doctor's appointments & food/toiletries for 3 months.
£1754 will cover her medication, doctor's ap., food/toiletries & rent for 3 months.
BONUS: £2000 will cover all this + extra medical complications
£2318 will cover all the above + her 2 months overdue rent!
Anything extra will of course give extra peace of mind and will not be wasted. Nehal has a younger sister who is a struggling single mother of a 4 year old boy. I'm very sure that once Nehal's health is stabilised and needs are met she will try everything she can to help support the rest of her family.
Thank you very much for your time. I hope you can help! Please do share with anyone you think might also be able and happy to help! If you have any questions please do drop me a message.
I will encouraged Nehal to send me videos/voice clips of her explaining her situation (and can forward on request) should you wish to hear a bit more first hand.
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