The Egyptian MS society MS Care is pushing ahead with an ambitious and exciting programme of events in spite of the ongoing political insecurity across the North African country, ensuring World MS Day is celebrated nonetheless.
With Egypt yet to move to the first democratically-elected government it fought hard to achieve, and against a background of continuing mass protests, MS Care has signalled it is business as usual when it comes to WMSD 2012. The organisation is hosting a chess tournament, a fundraising concert, performances by people with MS and a cycling tournament, each held in the epicentre of the protests, the capital Cairo.
“We were determined to continue with our awareness and fundraising activities despite the political climate, because MS does not stop developing or affecting peoples’ lives because of political change or economic upheaval,” said Ahmed Darwish, the Vice-President of Egypt’s MS Society, MS Care. “It will nevertheless be quite challenging to hold our planned programme because there are strikes in different districts around Cairo that interfere with planning any event. Also, people with MS from outside of Cairo will not be able to attend as there is an increasing risk that the roads will be cut off and also a concern from those who donate money due to the economic instability.”
Under these circumstances it is impressive that World MS Day will be celebrated here in any form, though there are some changes to the original planning which have been forced by the instability.  There is a chess tournament involving people with MS which has now been moved to being largely played online instead of being held in public. Eight people with MS are taking part in the knockout tournament, with the final being held on WMSD, where the winner will be presented with a trophy by taekwondo world champion, the Egyptian Amer Khiry.
On the same day, an awareness event will be held with 30 medical students from Cairo University cycling through the city distributing pamphlets on MS and wearing T-shirts promoting World MS Day. For those living with MS, there will be a seminar held in Cairo, where new treatments, physiotherapy and homeopathy will be discussed.
On WMSD itself, two songs in Arabic and another in English will be launched by an 18-year old engineering student and poet about her life with MS. The lyrics to the English song will certainly resonate with people living with MS internationally and will be posted to our blog in the near future.
A concert is also planned at the prestigious Cairo Opera House in October to raise funds for local people living with MS, many of whom struggle to support their families financially in a country where government assistance is not readily available to them.