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A focus on DEBRA Libya: If you start with nothing, you will need everything

In the second part of our interview series, we call Salem Al Salhi and Hesham Faitori before the curtain, to tell us more about their newly founded DEBRA Libya. What are the challenges they face, opportunities that have opened up, and their plans for the future?

You could find about 20 nations on this year's DEBRA International Congress in Rome. Amongst well established organisations, such as DEBRA Spain, which turns 20 this year, or DEBRA Germany, who has been a member since 1985, you could also find some newly founded organisations. One of them is DEBRA Libya. In Italy's capital, I met Salem and Hesham, who founded DEBRA Libya and represented it during the congress.

How and why was your organisation established?

"We set up DEBRA Libya a year and a half ago. Our reason for establishing DEBRA Libya is Salems daughter, Siwar. She is six years old and lives with EB. It is time for us to support Siwar, as well as other EB patients by creating a solid foundation where EB patients are able to find the support they need."

How did you go about setting up DEBRA Libya?

"The first step was to find other EB patients who could benefit from an organisation like DEBRA. We are still busy finding more patients to offer them the help and support they need. Other than that we already have a small house, which is financially managed by the council of Misurata. Having this house available, we would like to turn it into a small EB-House where people can receive the treatment they need. If you start with nothing, you will need everything. There is still a long way to go to be able to offer the support people with EB can benefit from."

What are your hopes for the future of your organisation?

"We would like to strengthen our connections to DEBRA International to support our patients in an optimal way. It would also be fantastic to have some local support in Libya. I am thinking of political support or support by the ministry of health. We hope, that we can turn our little EB-House into a proper clinic, with experienced doctors, nurses and health professionals, to give our patients the treatment they need. We hope, that our connections with DEBRA International will be strong enough to realise all that."

Dorothee Rahn, journalist for DEBRA International

Salem Al Salhi with Dorothee Rahn on stairs

Salem Al Salhi (president DEBRA Libya) with journalist Dorothee Rahn