MadoulaWe decided to drive further west together with Ayman’s contact Essam to meet another victim just outside the town of Barani. On 7 September 1998 this woman named Madoula was shepherding livestock together with her brother Anwar within sight of their house when the ground underneath her exploded. She lost both legs, an arm, and became blind. Ayman had publicized her case at the time and the Minister of Defense came forward to provide her with some plastic surgery to restore her face and prosthetic legs. A major newspaper gave her a wheelchair and 2,000 Egyptian pounds or about $400.

We sat on the floor in one of the spartan rooms of the house and she listened as we talked to her brother. After a while she talked. Now aged 22 years, Madoula spends her days listening to the radio and rarely leaves the house. The wheelchair is not used as the land around the house is rough desert. Her family cares for her, but she is frustrated that she cannot help around the house. Her prosthetic leg, received in 1999, was badly broken, but they couoldn’t afford to pay to fix it.
old man
We walked outside to take some still and digital photography. The site of the incident was approximately 300 meters away and, despite the Minister’s intervention of medical aid and media surrounding her case, none of the land had been cleared by the Army. After meeting her very elderly father we left for Barani in time to catch the noon prayers at the mosque. I sat in the car as the locals curiously checked out the only gringo in town.

We drove back to Marsa Matruh and went to the home of Adel, one of the survovors brought to Cairo for the conference. In 1991 at the age of 12 years Adel has lost his right arm and badly damaged his eyesight when he found a piece of ordnance in a vacant lot near his home. His uncle, Khames heard the explosion and took him to hospital. Adel showed me his home, where he spends most of his time watching television. He never completed his education and is unemployed, but, as with the other survivors, is cared for by his extended family.

Together we went for a very late lunch and then to the seaside to “Rommel Beach” for the sunset. In the summer (June-August), Marsa Matruh is a popular beach town. Later that evening, Ayman and I did a long interview with a reporter from Matruh Radio before heading out for an even later dinner. I was lucky and also careful so I never got sick from the food, which all tasted pretty nice!