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A mission to Egypt
25 November 2008
by Ivana Smucker

Hands Along the Nile connects US medical practitoners with people in Egypt. (Hands Along the Nile)Hands Along the Nile connects US medical practitoners with people in Egypt. (Hands Along the Nile)
Al Awaysa, Egypt: Hands Along the Nile Development Services (HANDS) is an NGO based in the United States ( Its mission is to promote peace and cooperation with the Middle East, through building bridges between the US and Egypt, the most populous and influential country in the Arab world.

There are still many impoverished Egyptians needing medical attention and Egyptian medical professionals desiring better training and knowledge. HANDS staff member, Ivana Smucker, writes about Medical Mission 2008:

We were on our way to the community of Al Awaysa in Upper Egypt. From the main road, busy with people, donkeys, cows, and mini-buses, we glimpsed more quiet scenery: a Nile canal lined with palm trees, small fishing boats, and women in colourful dresses washing their laundry on its edges.

Then, we took a turn onto a dirt road and followed it through narrow winding streets that made us wonder if we would have to continue on foot. Finally, the van stopped in front of a modest house made of concrete and notably featuring a complete roof. Above the gate, there was a colourful banner, which announced our visit and invited villagers to take advantage of this special event.

Five American medical professionals were visiting their community – five volunteers, who had generously donated two weeks of their time to come with us on this year’s Medical Mission. Our volunteers participated in eight of these community campaigns to bring health care services directly to those far from quality hospitals. The need was evident by the waiting rooms filled with men, women, and children seeking help and relief.

Additionally, volunteers gave lectures and training sessions on their specializations for community-based organizations’ health professionals and volunteers. Egyptian medical professionals in these areas often have limited or no access to current medical breakthroughs and must make diagnoses and treatments based on extremely limited knowledge. There is a significant need for ophthalmologists, cardiologists, hepatologists, gastroenterologists, pulminologists, nephrologists, and nurses able and willing to impart their skills and knowledge to an eager Egyptian audience.

Our first Medical Mission led to several training programs for health care workers within Egypt and a computer centre for doctors in Minia to provide access to medical advancements. Perhaps some of the most important results were the bridges of solidarity and friendship formed between Americans and Middle Easterners. We know our next Medical Mission will continue to create strong professional linkages to facilitate the flow of assistance, knowledge, and goodwill between our two peoples for many years to come.

Join us! We plan to take the next group of American medical professionals in April 2009. If you are a doctor or nurse willing to share your expertise with the medical community of Egypt (or if you know others who might be interested) please contact HANDS at 1-800-564-2544 or email us at