A Simple Exchange: Your Baby, for Your Money.

Lilly June 2015 - 1

My brave little flower, Lilly!

She’s 20 years old. She’s just had her fifth baby. Her first baby who roams the streets in another city with another family, she delivered when she was 12 years old. Her second and third babies are in a children’s home. Her fourth passed away. She then got married. Her husband is in jail. She gave birth to her fifth child who needed intensive care in the neonatal department.

The details of the girls tragic life isn’t what I’m writing this post to discuss. It almost doesn’t matter right now that she had to run away from an abusive home and find safety on the street when she was 11 years old. Whichever way she fell pregnant at 11 is tragic – she bares the scars of it. It isn’t a blog to discuss contraception or abortion options that aren’t available to these children who are victims of rape and incest. It is not to tell you about one of the girls I work with who tried to abort her own baby with a metal hanger inserted into her vagina that nearly killed her.

This isn’t a post to sensationalise. This isn’t even a blog about street girls entirely. It’s about the health care system in Egypt that never fails to terrify me.

It’s been some time since I’ve been working on the street children cause, the last few months I’ve dedicated to making my daughter better. But I’ve been working the last few days on getting money to a government hospital in Egypt. The 2000 pounds donation of syringes and nappies, that were asked for, were a negotiation down from the original 6000 pound bill the hospital demanded in exchange for discharging a baby to his street girl mother.

So as far as I understand, the hospital cannot discharge a baby without the bill being paid. If the bill is not paid, the baby gets given to an orphanage. And because it costs 1000 pounds a day for a baby incubator, many parents, not just street mothers, end up leaving their newborn babies at hospital and never coming back for them. So I got involved with the case of this girl because the beautiful Dr Yara bought it to my attention. Our deadline was looming. Next Saturday, 7th November, the baby was due to be discharged. If the money or the donations didn’t get there in time, the staff would hand the baby over to social services to be taken to an orphanage and his mother would not be allowed access. If we did manage to get the money to them, we could pick up the baby. We managed it. The money had been laying around for months waiting for a good cause (interestingly it was 2000 to the penny) from friends (thank you Reem and Samah) who had given me money for the cause, and because I’m not currently in Egypt, my cousin is driving the money to Yara who is overseeing the exchange (thank you Dr Mark for driving it). The beauty of group work of people who have never even met, is overwhelming.

When I gave birth to Lilly, she was born with no heart beat and didn’t breathe for 16 minutes. Before I ever held her in my arms, she was put into an incubator for 14 days. Of course I hate the beeping machines around her. My heart broke at the sight of tubes going into her nose and throat. I cringed with pain at the needles in her veins, in her hands, feet, head. I worried when I saw the 10ml morphine syringe gradually numbing her so that she wouldn’t feel the pain of forcing her body temperature to 33 degrees. I cried when I stood feeding her my milk through a tube and she whimpered in pain to what I had convinced myself, was a need to be held.

But… BUT, all the while I was achingly grateful for my privilege. I was acutely aware of it because just a year before, I had spent hours desperately trying to find an incubator for a 1 day old street baby who tragically died because when I could get her an ambulance and an incubator, there was no baby oxygen machines. She died while I managed to organise everything in 56 minutes. I found out she had died before her mother did. I knew about privilege and I knew, standing, watching over my own daughter, worried only about if she would make it, or not, that many others had not just this, but money and accessibility to worry about.

So things have to change. Let’s change them bit by bit together while the government sits around shuffling ministers and while political opinions flood social media in heated debates between people who’s hands are often not stuck in the fixing. I’ve always relied on your input so far for the girls and we’ve worked miracles together. I’m finding out how much two incubators would cost and if we manage to get them to this public hospital, I want an exchange from them that the street girls get to use them for their babies when needed. It’s a small step, but it’s a start and maybe will shame those responsible in acting.

Wouldn’t be incredible if we could add two incubators in this neonatal department in the name of street girls? Not only so that they can use them, but so that all babies who ever do, can know one day, as well as their parents, that the street children being good to this world and are not what “parasites” as the colloquial language describes them. 
Never shy away from doing little. Little is more than nothing. 
Since writing this post I have found out some exact costing and also something incredible happened…

Incubator: 90,000 – 120,000 L.E (without a ventilator)

Ventilator: 100,000 L.E (aprox. £8500)
In a private hospital, the incubators cost 3000 L.E a day with a requirement to pay 30,000 in advance. 
The ventilators currently in the hospital are a mix of donations from Arafa organisation and Shiekha Mozza of Qatar.
That’s the bad news… As for the good news: 
After writing this blog, I got a donation for an incubator. Life is good.


  1. I salute you Nelly for your hard work that is for a good cause. I’ve been following you on Twitter and WordPress for years. Although I’ve been away from my WordPress reader for some time, the moment I caught one of your posts in my reader I quickly opened it to see how things are going. And you never fail to impress me. Your posts always shine this light on those who need it the most. I would love an opportunity to contribute and help lessen the suffering of those who suffer. Perhaps this is how we can overcome our own suffering which disappears the moment we glimpse into others’. Please, if there’s anything I could do, tell me.
    My email: mo_ossama@hotmail.com
    Thank you once again and I wish you the best of luck in your powerful journey.

    • Mohamed… You know… I’ve always said that working with street children has shown me the worst humanity has to offer (in terms of the suffering of which we are capable as humans of inflicting on others) and the best humanity has to offer… In the form of people like you and so many others who want to help… Even if it’s to take away our own suffering, it’s beautiful that we find our kick in life doing that and not something selfish or evil or destructive xx

      Also… Thank you so much for your incredibly kind comment and taking the time out to write it… It bought me sunshine at an incredibly challenging time of my own life xx

  2. Me too i want to salute you Nelli for helping these girls. But there is something needs to be clear off, the baby was going to be handeled for an orphanage not because they couldn’t pay the money but because the hospital couldnt contact the mother for a month and a half.
    The issue of the money is something that the hospital manager cant give a hand in cause of the routine paper work related to finance with the government .
    I hope that this issue of the incubators you want to buy will help in solving these issues in thr future.
    And i hope if i can give any help.

    • Oh Ahmed thank you so much for the clarification… Though its heart breaking that the money situation remains a problem that would have still prevented her getting her baby…

      People like you are the “fixers” of this world.. And I love you though I’ve never met you, for it.

      I have some incredibly good news on something I’m working on that I will share with you as soon as it is confirmed xx

  3. Dear Nelly,

    I have been following you for some time. You and what you achieve are truly inspirational. How can donations be made to support you? Do you have a registered charity so can be gift aided? Thank you for all you do.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s