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Fundraising for the Public Health Sector with a Coldplay Twist

22 February, 2017
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The “Coldplay spirit’, as fans of the rock band would call it, was highly detectable in the audience of 250 people that gathered in Cairo’s Darb 1718 on February 18 for a performance night that raised funds to support Abu ElReesh Hospital.  

The event, entitled Speak, brought together singers, poets, and many other talents for a fundraiser to purchase a portable incubator, a life-saving device that transports a new born baby in need of an incubator from a hospital lacking one to a hospital equipped with one. A part of the total cost of EGP 180,000 was raised at the event.

The Middle East and Egypt’s first Coldplay tribute band, Strawberry Swing, participated with a performance that ended the evening with fans singing along to the chart-topping hits “Everything's Not Lost” and “Fix You”. 

“We believe that it is our duty to use our publicity to help people in need, after all this is what the Coldplay spirit is all about,” said the band’s guitarist Mohamed Tarek.

Patient Support Team (PST), a student activity group formed of 200 medical students largely from Kasr Al-Ainy School of Medicine as well as other faculties, organized the fundraiser as part of an ongoing campaign to raise funds for Abu ElReesh Hospital.

Each PST event is marked with a particular theme that merges entertainment with charity.

"We make sure people are paying for the fun they will have, just like any other event they would pay for, and the charity is just the cherry on top [for them],” said Rana Shebl, head of the fundraising team.

With a vision that focuses on improving the service quality at public hospitals, the students kicked off their initiative three years ago with their main target as Abu ElReesh Hospital, which has remained their focus up until now.

PST started with a single team, called Mustashfa (hospital) Devotees, thinking they could help out with their physical presence on the ground at the hospital. Students would visit the hospital in shifts, with two one-hour shifts assigned to each student per week. On-duty students would help the parents of patients by guiding them through the hospital, helping out with paperwork, and—thanks to their white coats—they would help detect emergency cases and refer those to the emergency room, in order to avoid misunderstandings about which department to see, which would alleviate queue lines across the hospital.

After spending some time in the hospital, they noticed that a large number of families often do not have within their possession the necessary coinage—usually EGP 5—for a ticket to see a doctor, and some cannot afford the lab tests or medicine they are prescribed.

That's when the idea for a fundraising team was born.

The team was assembled, and PST organized several themed events, including the Harry Potter Experience and Marvel vs. DC. 

Each of these events helped the hospital obtain a much needed device. Thus far, PST has been able to provide the hospital with an endoscope, an EEG, and two CPAP Ventilators for the neonatology department. 

The Coldplay event is a continuation of a campaign that focuses on helping the neonatology department. "Supporting this department with all its requirements, which amounts to millions of Egyptian pounds, is crucial," Shebl stated. In the hospital, it is too often that a premature baby is born and in need of an incubator, but there are not enough that are functioning to be able to meet the demand.

PST was contacted by an online magazine, Persona Magazine, about organizing a fundraising event, for which PST would be given the proceeds in order to put them to good use. The magazine had previously held an event in August, titled Persona Speaks, where poets and musicians performed live. As such, Speak was organized as an open mic night for whoever wants to put their talent—whatever it may be—on display. It was in this event that Strawberry Swings performed the closing act.

PST contacted Strawberry Swing and told them about the cause. The band didn’t hesitate, and signed up right away to perform and contribute to the night.

“We thought that with Strawberry Swing playing that night, our event [could] reach as many Coldplay fans as possible,” said Shebl. It was in this context that the Starfish Campaign, the host of the “Coldplay in Egypt: A Head Full of Dreams tour”, stepped in to promote the fundraiser.

In just one year, the Starfish Campaign was able to grow into a platform of 120,000 people on Facebook alone, with the goal of coaxing Coldplay into performing in Egypt.

“Following in the footsteps of Coldplay, we are doing everything we can to give back to the community,” said Mohamed Allam, founder and Managing Director of Starfish Campaign. “We fully agreed, since we know that Abu ElReesh Hospital was in dire need of help and support. We didn't hesitate to support the campaign.” 

Tags Coldplay Health Abu ElReesh Hospital