March 30, 2013 was an ordinary day in the life of most New Yorkers. It was a brisk day with a hint of Spring in the air. People went about their normal Saturday routine, shopping, cleaning, and running their kids from one soccer game to another. What they did not realize as they were doing all this, that there was a special event going on in the city.
The event was a special gala being held at the Garden City Hotel on behalf of Egypt Cancer Network 57357. Although NY had hosted one last year during Ramadan, this was the first of its kind for the hospital based in New York.
The event was packed with people from all walks of life as well as nationalities and religions. Doctors, lawyers, corporate CEO’s, Muslims and Christians. But tonight they were all assembled for one thing and only one thing – to support the wonderful work of the Hospital 57357.
The evening started off with the ECN Committee Chapter leader in the tri-state area, welcoming everyone to the event. They gave their appreciation to all the people who helped make this evening happen, as well as a warm welcome to the distinguished guest speakers, Dr. Sherif Abouelnaga, Mr. Khalid El Nabowi and Fr. Bolous, the representative for His Holiness, Pope Twadros of the Coptic Church.
Mr. Ahmed Farouk, General Counsel of Egypt in NY gave a moving speech about how the hospital is a role model hospital and is open to all Middle East and Africa, with no regard for religion, political views or ability to pay. He focused on the human ability to give back, especially to children and follow your dreams. The children of 57357 have dreams and with donations to the hospital, will allow them to follow those dreams. He continued by saying imagine your best dream being attacked by cancer, this most deadly disease. He encouraged us to fight against it and remember how good you feel when you help a child. He also mentioned the unknown soldiers of the hospital, whose humility is a lesson to us all.
Egypt Cancer Network and the Eihab Organization then introduced Elias Debbas, and honored him with the Caring Heart Award from Egypt Cancer Network. ECN rewards those for their caring and willingness to help others. Mr. Debbas humbly accepted the award and thanked everyone.
The evening progressed with various speeches from Dr Sherif, Imam Ahmed, Fr. Bolous and Khalid El Nabowi. One of the highlights of Dr. Sherif’s speech as he spoke about the hospital was two very inspiring stories. One was about the campaign from the students of Egypt asked to donate one Egyptian pound per student to help the hospital collected 22 million pounds in one day! The other very inspiring story was that of Haga Zohra, who was a poor woman from a far away village. She walked to the hospital to donate five pounds, which was her savings for five months.
Fr. Bolous’ presence at the event was very important. His arrival one week earlier proved to be a very fruitful visit. He used this week to meet with the surrounding churches and visit the communities to talk about the work that Egypt Cancer Network is doing, as well as his connections and personal experience in the hospital. His visits brought many people to the event who would not have known about the fundraiser if it had not been for his words. A surprise, yet happy visit to the event was by Fr. Moises Bogdady, representing Bishop David, of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese. During the event, Fr. Bolous’ speech touched upon his initial visit to the hospital and his lasting friendship and commitment with Dr. Sherif Abouelnaga and the patients at the hospital.
One of the highlights of the evening was a moment of silence for Dr. Ola Ghabbour one of the founders of the hospital who succumbed to lung cancer earlier this year. This was lead by Mr. El Nabowi. His speech then focused on the inhumanity of humanity and what is wrong with the world today. He gave a heart-wrenching speech about how inhumanity destroys the future of our world – our children. And it is up to us, the adults in their life, to stop this. He went on to say cancer and poverty is not the enemy, but indifference to our fellow human beings is the enemy. He challenged us all to be more giving and loving to our fellow man regardless of their background. He stressed no matter what is your position in life, you can make a difference. He asked us to all unite as one for Humanity and the well-being of Egypt as one country.
The evening ended on a high note with singers intertwined with the speeches and a very moving video of the hospital’s past, present and future. Comments heard as the people existed for the evening, were, ‘very moving, ‘dedicated people’, ‘amazing work’. We hope to continue our mission in NY and around the country to support this wonderful cause to KEEP THE DREAM ALIVE FOR 57357.