The Church Field Hospital at Tahrir Square

L - church; R - mosque

As clashes and demonstrations have resumed in Cairo and throughout Egypt, I have been closely following information to try and decipher what is going on. I wish soon to be able to publish a helpful summation of events, but things are happening so quickly, and in essence I remain confused about the ‘why’ of everything, as well as where it is going.

In light of this, here instead is a short human interest piece describing a video from al-Masry al-Youm, a local Egyptian newspaper, highlighting the efforts of Kasr al-Dobara Church,[1] a Presbyterian congregation one street removed from Tahrir Square, to treat the injured from the recent clashes.

This work was not unique. There were at least three areas in the square which had field hospitals, and another hosted inside Omar Makram Mosque which is a prominent feature of Tahrir. Yet the church opened its doors all the same, seeking to serve all who were in need. To note, while many churches in Egypt have adjoining clinics, this one does not. All medical supplies, in all locations, came through the donations of protestors or sympathizers with their wounded. The official count from the recent clashes count over twenty dead and over one thousand injured.

The video is a little over two minutes long, and in Arabic only. Below is a translation of both text and audio. Please click here to open the video.

 

Introductory Text on YouTube:

Maybe it wasn’t expected for the Kasr al-Dobara Church near Tahrir Square to become a temporary headquarters for a field hospital which treated tens of victims who fell during bloody confrontations between security forces and the army and thousands of protestors.

 

0:09        Caption: Kasr al-Dobara Church, Downtown Cairo, November 21, 2011

0:15        Chanting from a distance: The people want the downfall of the field marshal (Tantawi, de facto head of the ruling military council)

0:18        Caption: Victims of Tahrir in the Hospitality of Kasr al-Dobara Church

Speaker: Fayiz Ishaq

0:22        Have mercy on the tired ones. In the middle of events, this is the idea of the Bible, the idea of the church. In the middle of events we find ourselves invested in them. First of all, the church is downtown, in Tahrir Square, and this is a miracle. The church was built in the late 1940s when it was very difficult to build churches, and perhaps the reason for being here is revealed now, being so close to events.

Speaker not named, female doctor:

1:13        We knew there was pressure in the square, so we came yesterday around seven o’clock and opened the field hospital. For the first two or three hours we mainly distributed supplies. There were lots of people, and if the other field hospitals didn’t have supplies we’d send them out – tools, syringes, bandages. Then people discovered there was a field hospital here and began to come. In the first two or three hours there were about eight cases with simple injuries. By about 2:30 in the morning we heard they attacked the field hospital in the middle of Tahrir, and the doctors came here. They brought all their things and we set up three zones – here we dealt with the cases that were easy to treat, not dangerous. Over there we had two zones for the critical cases which required greater concentration.

 

It would be very interesting in the days to come to speak to church leaders and those involved to know more. If possible, I will relate these stories later. For now, it is good to see a church involved in its community, however temporary and extraordinary this community was.

 


[1] If you click on the link, the page will have a map of the church. Drag the picture down with the curser and you will soon see Tahrir Square to the north, with a large administrative building inbetween.

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One thought on “The Church Field Hospital at Tahrir Square

  1. I look forward to reading your summation once you sort things out … it’s so difficult to be away and trying to figure out what’s going on there. I remember how inaccurate the news coverage was when I was there during the early part of the Revolution, and I doubt that it’s any better now.

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