23 Mar 2013 09:00
The political upheaval of Egypt has not stopped Sister Reyes, 68, and her small team from spending their days treating up to 90 burn victims per day in the rural area of Samalout. In the summer, the numbers reach up to 250. Though Reyes, the driving force behind the clinic’s success, yearns to now return home after 47 years of work, she fears that the cash-strapped clinic will close if she leaves.
With a staff of 12, none of them doctors, and a budget of only $340 a month, the employees have little to work with. Many patients pay little for medical care and those who cannot afford it get it for free. A majority of people in the impoverished governate live in tiny homes, sleeping and cooking in the same overcrowded rooms. Accidents are common. As it is an area with a high number of agricultural workers, many victims also suffer chemical burns. Reyes and her team cannot get many of the drugs in Egypt and rely on people who leave the country to bring it back to replenish their ever-strained stocks. The nun hopes all their efforts will be enough as she can’t bear the thought of it failing if she leaves. “This is my life,” she says.