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Cancer Children in Egypt Laugh off Pains Amid Arts Festival

"I like singing and drawing, I feel like a normal child today, and I would never surrender to cancer," said Hanan Mahmoud, a 12-year-old girl receiving her treatment at Cairo’s "57357" Hospital.

Hundreds of cancer children in Egypt joined a special arts festival on April 22, staging activities of drawing, singing, workshops, video games and sports.

"57357" Hospital, a Cairo-based medical foundation for children’s cancer treatment, has held Thursday an entertaining festival, staging activities of drawing, singing, workshops, video games and sports for children with cancer.

Hundreds of children across the country have joined the festival, the first of its kind held by the hospital since its inauguration in 2007.

"I’m very happy as I admire drawing flowers and gardens," Hanan, who has suffered leukemia since she was 4, told the reporters while drawing a big tree surrounded by colorful roses.

Coming from the hospital’s branch in the Delta city of Tanta, Zyad Adel, a 5-year-old boy with a stomach cancer, told the press that he came to play with his friends.

"I won in the video games twice today!" exclaimed Zyad in a joyful voice, while his mother was helping him drawing the Egyptian national flag.

At the main garden of the hospital, a big stage was surrounded by children, where a clown and a magician were performing entertaining shows.

Goerge Ghatas, an 8-year-old on his wheelchair who had his head shaved, was clapping and laughing as the magician threw pigeons in the sky.

Ghatas’s mother and younger sister also attended the festival. "We are enjoying very pleasant moments with my children. The festival made these ill children feel like healthy ones," the mother said, urging all Egyptians to donate to this unique hospital.

"My son has been treated in the hospital since he was 5, and I visit him every month," said the mother. "I miss him a lot as I couldn’t afford travelling weekly and his sister hasn’t seen him for a long time," she added, describing the festival as "family reunion like old days."

Children’s Cancer Hospital Foundation or the "57357" has been established by donations and civil society efforts, with a current 74.4 percent survival rate.

The hospital is not restricted to Egyptian children, but also opens its door to serve children from Arab and African states, with free treatment services for rich or poor children alike.

The hospital plans to hold the festival annually, given its apparently successful debut.
Kareem Mohsen, coordinator of the festival, told reporters that "the main objective of this festival is to pay more attention to the children’s psychological side."

"57357" Hospital, a Cairo-based medical foundation for children’s cancer treatment.

"The cancer has stolen big part of their happiness, while they are spending most of the time isolated in a hospital, taking medicine, far from their families, and the festival came to give them a glimpse of relief and joy," Mohsen added.

"57357 is a system that takes care of the psychological and medical sides of every child as well as their education, rather than only being a hospital for treating cancer," added the festival organizer.

"It isn’t his fault to suffer cancer," said Ahmad Bandery, whose niece is receiving medication in the hospital, adding the festival helps children to forget pains and become happy.

"The children with cancer are in dire need to be happy, to play and dance like their fellow mates," he said.

By Robert Muriisa.

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