What Is My Experience at Seventy-Five Years of Life?
- I enjoyed every day of my life. I am happy, and I have peace because my God is with me all my life.
My Advice to You
- Set high goals for yourself and work hard to achieve them. Nothing is impossible, trust the Lord, and He will help you.
- Travel to different countries to learn more about other cultures.
Life is good. Enjoy it and be happy
Kassala, Eastern Sudan, Different Tribes
In Kassala, there were three major tribes that lived there. The largest tribe was the Hadandawa. They were light black in color. They did not speak Arabic. They spoke their own language. It was like all the other local languages in Sudan; it was just a spoken, unwritten language.
The third big tribe was the Rashaayda. They were not black like the other two tribes. They came from Saudi Arabia 300 years ago. They were like the Saudis and their hair was dark and smooth, not curly like the other tribes. They lived in tents made of wool. Most of them were very rich.
They specialized in raising camels. They usually wore very dirty clothes, because the water is difficult to find.
Rashidi people were very intelligent. Once a mother came with her six kids. They had food poisoning after eating a diseased or dead camel. I was outside, and when I came in, she made a slight movement with her hand, and I noticed all the kids immediately lay down pretending they were very sick.
Working in South Sudan Wau 1971–1972
I took the plane from Khartoum to Wau. When the plane reached the Wau region, I noticed that the ground was green. Now I was in a tropical area. Tropical forests cover the whole region. The rainy season lasted nine to ten months every year compared to about two weeks or less in Khartoum. When the plane landed in Wau Airport, I noticed that the soil was firm and red. After the rain, there would be no mud. You could walk on the dry ground immediately after the rain. In Wau the weather was much cooler than in Khartoum. I thought that the tropical region would be warmer. The rain and the dense forests made all the difference. When the hospital car drove me toward the city, I could see mango trees lining both sides of every street, and I could see beautiful wildflowers growing underneath the mango trees. There were no paved roads in Wau, but still, the streets were much smoother than the paved ones in Khartoum.
Fun on the Train from Cairo to Assiut
I went to Ramsis Railway Station. It was the central railway station in Cairo. All the trains coming and going to Cairo from all around Egypt started here. To my surprise, the station was very crowded. Everyone was running to reach their train. The trains were crowded. When a train stopped, a considerable number of passengers squeezed themselves at the door, of course, with their bags, no lines.
Some shayaleen could bring your bag inside the train and find a seat for you. They forced themselves and pushed other passengers away. They received money for doing that. They usually asked for a lot, and you had to bargain. The other alternative was to push yourself among the crowds through the train door.
It was a familiar thing to see some people from deprived areas; the man pushed his wife and children inside the train through the train windows. It was a dramatic scene and a complete shock to me.
Living in Khartoum 1970–1971
On Christmas Day, the tradition of our family was to visit each other. Leila suggested that we sing some Christmas carols in each home we visited. We found great acceptance, and everyone sang with us.
Christmas caroling became our tradition in every city we lived in. We found that our Christmas carols brought a lot of joy to every home we visited.
Every Christmas holiday, Leila would bring all the family’s kids to act out the Christmas play. She continued this tradition every Christmas till now. My daughter in California now is doing the same tradition with her children and her neighbors’ children.
Our Tour in Europe 1974 (Austria)
We visited a palace with huge gardens, which was built by one of the bishops about 1680. Apparently, he was an artist and engineer. He made channels for the water to pass through most of the palace. This water stream was used to move small characters. Those characters were in one place, forming a group of soldiers marching and one of them was raising a flag. On another level, there were some people in a market place. One of them was sharpening knives; some ladies were shopping. The nice thing was that all of them were moving. In part of this palace, we were passing in one place and looking at the nicely decorated walls. On those walls there were shapes of different animal heads all around. Suddenly all those heads started to sprinkle water toward us. They said that this was one of the bishop’s tricks for his visitors.
A godly Catholic priest
The Catholic church in Halfa Al-Jadeeda was next to the Coptic Orthodox church. There were three priests in the Catholic church. One of them was from France, and the second was from England and the third from Belgium. All of them were good friends. They used to visit us at our house. One of them used to go to the area of the sugar factory. He used to do Sunday service for the Christian employees there. He noticed that some of the Christians did not attend the service. When he asked them, they told him that they belong to the evangelical church. There was no evangelical church in the Halfa Al-Jadeeda area. So the Catholic priest went to Al-Gedaref (four hours each way) where there was an evangelical church and priest. He convinced the evangelical priest to come with him to Halfa Al-Jadeeda in his car. He took him to the sugar factory area. The evangelical priest Morad did the service. In the end, he brought him to our house for a visit. Then he drove him back to Al-Gedaref.
The difference in the weather between Wadi Halfa and New Halfa
The other difficulty for the Halfaweyeen was the weather. In Wadi Halfa it was always dry, and it may rain every five or six years once. In Halfa Al-Jadeeda the rainy season was about four months every year. The rain was usually heavy in August and September. Some of the villages became almost isolated for a few days. Most of the cars were stuck in the mud because there were no paved roads.
I heard a joke about the Halfaweyeen. Immediately after they arrived in Halfa Al-Jadeeda, there was a thunderstorm. The lightning was making the sky very bright at night. One of the Halfaweyeen told his friend, “God looked for us in Wadi Halfa, and He was unable to find us, then God is now using his penlight to search for us here.”
God rewarded a woman who took care of a stranger
The Coptic Christians of Halfa Al-Jadeeda were very friendly people. We used to visit all of them. Most of them had low income. All of them, on the other hand, were very generous. One family, the husband, was working as a salesman in a beverage store. The wife, like all the other families, did not work. They had one son in high school. This lady took care of a Canadian man who came to visit Halfa Al-Jadeeda and became sick. She, as her habit, gave him shelter and food daily during his five-day visit. After a few years, the Canadian Embassy representative in Khartoum came to Halfa Al-Jadeeda and asked about this lady. The story was strange. The Canadian visitor died in Canada. In his will, he gave a few hundred thousand dollars to this lady’s son. The Sudanese government claimed a good portion of it. The son was in college at that time. He went to Canada to collect his unexpected money.
Building a new operating theater for the eye department
When I arrived at Halfa Al-Jadeeda, I found the eye department was in bad condition. On the first operating day and after the first operation, we had to cancel the rest of the operations. There was an emergency cesarean section. We were using the same operating theater as the surgery and obstetrics. On that day, I decided to build a new operating theater special for the eye department. I contacted the officials in the Ministry of Health and asked for that. Their simple answer was there were no funds. I immediately contacted the officials in the agricultural scheme. I explained to them the importance of having a separate operating theater. I also convinced them that I was treating their farmers. I asked them to purchase the operating theater instruments. I went to Khartoum and ordered all that I needed. Also, I raised funds from different places. A new building was erected. There were up-to-date instruments for the operating theater and refraction department a few weeks later. One of my patients had a workshop building chairs. I showed him a picture of the transport stretcher trolley. I asked him to make a similar simple one. He made two of them and donated them.
In a few weeks, I started the eye surgeries twice a week, five to seven daily operations.
For the wards, all the bed sheets were dirty and old. I contacted some merchants, and I persuaded them to donate new sheets for the eye wards.