Gain Something, Lose Something
Egypt, © 04.May.2002 gM
Photos of Egypt
Introduction to Egypt
The Race
The Unexpected
Looking for Gems in the Chaos
Show Me The Money
Gain Something, Lose Something
One late evening in Luxor, we are walking along a busy street when squealing brakes instinctively make us turn our heads towards the noise. In front of our eyes, a mother and her three-year-old son fly through the air before hitting the hard asphalt. The woman, who has been carrying the child, lands on her back, partly cushioning the fall for her son who instantly starts screaming. A few meters back, a moped lies on the ground in the middle of the street. The driver is standing next to it, holding his face in his hands. There is no sign of a helmet. Traffic is already beginning to queue behind the moped.

The response is immediate. Within a couple of seconds, a dozen people run to the scene of the accident to offer their help. The mother and boy are surrounded by people. One person is holding the boy, others are talking to the mother, grasping her arms and shoulders in an attempt to get her up. Someone moves the moped out of the way of traffic, while others attend to the driver. A man carries the crying boy to the sidewalk, where we can see that blood is trickling down from the child's mouth. The driver walks off the street. The mother requires the longest time and many, many helping hands to get up. Once standing, she luckily is able to move by herself and limps towards her son. As quickly as the accident happened, the traffic begins to flow freely again.

No doubt, the handling of the accident would be entirely different in Western Europe or North America, as would probably be the eyewitnesses' reactions - more centered around police and ambulance (the third parties on which to rely), more bound by rules, more institutionalized. I cannot imagine that anyone at the accident in Luxor asked one of the injured first for permission to perform first aid, as is legally required in Canada. No doubt, North American or Western European police and ambulance would manage such an accident with integrity, applying highest possible standards according to today's knowledge. There are good reasons for the existence of these kinds of rules and regulations. In the case of this accident, the actions of the helpers did not seem to aggravate injuries, but they could have. The mother, child, and moped driver were lucky. I, however, cannot shake off a strong feeling that in this case, the accident's victims received something far more important than highly effective first aid treatment; something which may be pushed to the background a bit too much in Western Europe and North America where the burden of difficult situations is placed in the hands of professional, but nevertheless third parties. The "me's" and "you's" in the street of Luxor, rushing to the three injured, provided immediate human attention and interaction rooted in genuine concern and sympathy, ensuring that the victims did not feel left alone and on their own for even the shortest bit of time.

Introduction to Egypt  /  The Race  /  The Unexpected  /  Looking for Gems in the Chaos  /  Show Me The Money  /  Gain Something, Lose Something