(4 Feb 2018) LEADIN:
Today (Sunday) marks World Cancer Day.
And for one women in Morocco, helping its sufferers has become her life’s mission.
The receptionist welcomes the latest visitor to the centre.
“How many days are you going to stay here?” she asks.
This woman has breast cancer and a small building in Rabat is offering support she would struggle to get anywhere else.
This is the Janat NGO in Rabat and it has become a haven for women fighting cancer.
Around 25 patients come here each week.
Some stay and sleep in the beds for several days, other can come just to have some food and a comfortable room to meet with others.
Its founder is Khadija Elkurti who was inspired by her own personal tragedy.
“I lost my husband because of cancer. I saw many poor people at the Moulay Abdallah hospital in Rabat who needed help, support, food, and someone to look after them,” she says.
“As I just have this house I decided to turn it into a shelter. I went to the hospital and gave my contact to everyone who needed a place and some food for free, seeking only God’s blessings.”
The respite this place provides is a huge relief to the women.
For Fwazia Elmikawy, it has lifted the financial burden of battling her illness.
“Everything is free here for us, things that our families cannot afford,” she says.
“I’m a mother of six children, so I never could have a rented a car or anything. I don’t have the possibility. But here thanks to Khadija, we have everything we need.”
One woman heads to the pharmacy to collect a presciption.
Abdallah Sassuiy, General Manager of Janat NGO, fetches the medication.
But he says they have “limited resources”.
“We are spending 500 dirhams (55 US dollars) per month per patient who are registered here,” he says.
“There is also a psychologist volunteer who comes almost every week to provide psychological support to the women. The main idea here is to give those women a feeling of family so they feel comfortable being here.”
This NGO needs 20,000 euros (25,000 US dollars) to be able to operate for one year.
The money comes from Elkurti herself and private donations.
“I know what it means to be touched by cancer, people need a hand, some help and this is what we do here.”
The Moroccan government provides a small amount of support.
It bought a van for the association.
Every time a patient needs to go to the hospital, a driver takes them there in the vehicle.
According to the Moroccan Ministry of Health, there are more than 200,000 cancer patients in the country with an average of 40,000 new cases a year.
Around 36 percent of those patients are women with breast cancer.
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