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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

For the love of Egypt

I hesitated a lot before writing this post; lately I have been getting messages and emails accusing me of falling out of love with Egypt. I am accused of baring its wounds and pointing at its scars - and this is far from the truth and far from my intentions. It just physically ails me to see little stupid things than can be easily attended to slip the minds of people who should know better.

This is an article in Kalam El Nas magazine that triggered that post. The article, by Dina Mounib, is about a school bus accident. Is it any school bus? No!! It is the bus of an international school - one of those schools that charge more than an arm and a leg to provide privileged children with a super education and utmost care.

The bus driver picked up the kids at 7 am as usual and, like an accident in the making, he drove to school at full speed. Because of his irresponsibility and negligence, he is in a coma and all the kids are injured.

Some parents managed to fly their kids immediately abroad for bone surgeries and others preferred to spare their kids further trauma and have them treated here.

In her article, Dina is suggesting that schools conduct personality tests and assessments as part of the hiring process of drivers to ensure that they have the minimum sense of responsibility, integrity and work ethics.

I am suggesting that such tests should be extended to all company drivers - be it a school, an oil company, a bank, a ministry, or any other company.

Companies like Gallup, Talent Plus, and others have all sorts of assessments and with a little more investment from the side of private sectors, maybe we can make driving less hazardous.

I am urging our young entrepreneurs to give this a serious thought. Here is how it should go ... get certified to do such assessments, form a product line of various assessments, team up with SGS or other quality assurance companies, team up with a few ministries, and then enforce your services on the private and public sectors.

It should sound something like this "your license could be revoked if you do not have your drivers assessed"

I am tired .... out and over!


That Guy said...

Professionalism doesn't exist here, even when it could mean people safety. FYI, I just discovered that the building where I work doesn't have any fire or security emergency plans and i'm on one of the high floors!!

Marwa Rakha said...

Welcome That Guy .. you are so right ... it is all about appearances ... building look nice and who cares about safety, shoes look nice and who cares about comfort, families look nice but who cares about love .... what will we do about it? How can we change it?

Anonymous said...

This is indeed az vert destressing incident, I read about it. As a mother myself, I am extremly concerned, as you rightly said you do end up forking an arm and a leg for schools only to have bad drivers in the end? What negligence? The schools have to be held accountable...more parents have to speak up and demand their basic rights!

D. eL 7aZeeN said...

That's just the tip of the iceberg. We are, and will be prone to many incidents like that as a natural outcome of the many flaws in our lifestyle and daily habbits.
To name only 3:

Lack of credibility, honesty and transparency. We don't want to really dig in, find the root of our mistakes, and properly fix it. If an incident hits the media then all that matters is to fabricate a convincing scenario.
We've been trained since our childhood to (ab)use our rich, beautiful language to exaggerate and falsify instead of describing accurately.
You can even see it on TV. Those kids' shows where the kid never expresses himself and just acts like an adult and says whatever pleases the hostess to gain her approval.
Our kids are born smart, we're not taking advantage of that. The way we raise them utilizes their mental abilities to turn them into the future's hypocrates.
We should be giving them *true* freedom of expression, *real space* for creativity instead of restricting it and/or manually crafting it.
Face saving, and looking good has become far more important than actually 'doing good'.
Over the years the art of using words to paint a false picture have become more important than actions and getting things done.

"Gamee3 al e7ssa2eyat" where Gamee3 doesn't really mean EACH and EVERYONE.
"A3la daragat el Aman" where a3la never means the truly highest
"A7dath Teqneyat al 3aSSR"... pure 'phessa'
Gamee3, Koll, A3la, A7dath are all inaccurate exaggretations that totally falsify instead of describe what's going on.
Everybody's doing it. This is how we use our day to day language. You either believe it and turn into a schmuck. Or you filter out everything and keep your sanity.
"Itikhath al 2egra2at letafady 7odooth..." We've learnt our lesson [NOT!].
"Benghaty e7teyagat el sou2 benesbit 99 fil meya" False statistics. El sou2 lessa 3eryan.
"Afadat al ta7qeeqat" Beat up some anonymous doofus til he confesses to anything.
"International School, International Hospital, International Supermarket"
Shouldn't there be a certain criteria to dubbing your business "International"?
A so called International Hospital should atleast have a helicopter landing pad on its roof or something to justify the International part of the name.
Not just 3 or 4 greedy doctors who get along well together just throw in some cash, rent a 3 story building and hang the 'International Hospital' sign.
Some laws need to be fixed and well applied. For now, nobody gets rightfully punished only scapegoats do.

Lack of a quick, fair justice system. We need an effective small claims courts.
If *everybody* knows they will be held accountable for their actions, then people will think twice before doing wrong, not to mention commiting a crime.
Any punishment system that doesn't apply to abosuletly everybody is worthless.
That's why we will never respect traffic lights, and prefer to have a human being organizing traffic instead. Where you easily evade any fine by:
1- Choose the free way out: smile at him or say something funny that'd make him smile.
2- Free but admiting to be an idiot: 'ma3lesh, makhatish baly'.
3- Bribe by paying a tiny fine or offering a ciggie.
4- Free but risky unless you're truly connected and your connection can arrive at the scene: 'Hat el daftar ya 7ayawan enta mate3rafsh ana meen! matkhaleneesh a3melha ma3ak!'
5- Just drive on. Wait til it's time to renew your license and have your friendly neighborhood 'wekeel neyaba' drop your fines or magically shrink'em down to only 1%.

On the other hand, you can be minding your own business, obeying all traffic laws. And one day while you're driving on a highway, a crazy kid just throws himself at your car.
You kill the kid, go to jail, have a criminal record. Kiss your career goodbye while the kid's mom weeps 'My little baby was gonna go to medical school and get a PhD'.
People gather up and everybody suddenly has his own opinion and they all claim to have seen what happened and that it's totally your mistake just cause you're driving a nice car.
Imagine we're all subjected to that. There should be some effective law addressing scenarios like that.

Until we all believe and apply the "No human is above the law" concept, we are all "3emad el kibeer". Slow justice or No justice.
It's just the 'stick' that's penetrating us that has a different form from the one that attacked 3emad.
Be it car accidents, ships drowning, buildings falling, laws changing in favor of others, laws crafted to put others behind bars, deaths due to poor medical practice...it's still the stick and we'll still moan.

Excessive fear of authority. In this part of the world you're only respected and treated like a God if you're a politician, a cop, or a doctor.
When any system is corrupt, it suppresses people instead of expressing them. Corruption leads to poverty and illness. Doctors get busy and become life savers hence joining the list of feared ones.
In this part of the world, creators, inventors, scientists and engineers become worth nothing. Those talents end up behind bars, in mental hospitals, or they get lucky and just leave the country.
The corrupt system ends up importing weapons, technology and ideas from the West that are nothing but products of our own talented individuals who were wise and fortunate enough to flock from the corrupt regime.
Any system where the talanted, gifted and creative aren't properely credited and respected ends up being disrespected internationally and rightfully dubbed 'Third World Countries'.
For now the most we can do is just become copycat manufacturers. China does a much better job as they don't seem to be affected by the 'Fahlawa' disease.

One could go on forever, as you can see the entire system is quite corrupt and requires a major overhaul starting from how we raise our kids.
Any other attempts are simply just 'patches' that just help keep the system running for one more extra day.

Even in the article, the lady goes: 'Who's responsible? The Driver or The School?'...khkhkh
If you have to ask a question like that then you're not qualified to write that report/article.
No matter how cute, lippy, blonde, caring, loving, and smiling you appear to be, your lack of common sense still makes you unqualified.
Now the average reader will praise her for being a brave reporter. She asked the most forbidden question. She shouted 'Who's responsible?' and even implied that it might be the school's responsibility!
Wow, this babe means business.
And while you're at it, let's praise our free press...

When I take my kid to an International school and pay the International fees, I put my trust in that school. I didn't give my hard earned money to Mr.X the bus driver.
Whether the driver was a lunatic, or the buses weren't properly maintained, or whatever the circumstances that led to this tragedy, that's the school's problem.
School management and staff are to deal with that internally, taking whatever neccessary steps to prevent incidents like that to occur.
I suggest the following :

1- It's time for the school to stand up to the 'International' part in it's name and to pay the victims' families.
Financial compensation from the school should be calculated according to 'International' standards not how Egyptian blood is evaluated (cheaper than water).
To simplify: enough money to totally cure the victims, plus moral support funds to the families' loss and hard time they've went through.

2- The school should start to clean up its HR. Human resources in Egypt has become the job of the unemployed.
Unskilled, poorly educated youngsters with flashy certificates that actually mean nothing somehow manage to slip in to many companies under the HR umbrella.
In a country with such high unemployment records HR employees suddenly become the key holders to job oppertunities.
Cluelessly approving and disapproving candidates based on nepotism, prejiduce and flawed intuition.
It takes more than faking a smile, dressing well, and smart comebacks to be an HR employee. It actually is a deep, heavy science.

3- The now healthy/clean HR should carry a fair investigation with the driver. Not just another 'Save our Face' scenario. Find the reasons, and work on preventing them to happen.
Was the driver a bad choice to start with? Was their a mechanical failure in the bus?

4- From the 'International Fees' that the school has been gathering they should have a tracking device like a GPS in each bus or even with each student. Those are pretty cheap nowadays.
They should equip drivers with mobile phones while having a team of operators to take calls from drivers and parents. If something wrong happens and kids are expected to reach home or school late, that should be reported.
HR should put a policy or even decide if a 'Safety and Security' department should take the role of setting up a policy to avoid future disasters.

5- During the process disclosure is a must. Those concerned need to know the truth.

To sum it up, honestly admit there is a problem and pay the price. Honestly declare the roots of it. Put a plan that'd resolve the problem. Honestly stick to the plan.
Deeds not words.

I highly doubt any of the above will ever happen properly.
All I can do is offer my condolences to those affected:
Ma3lesh, 7assal kheir, gat saleema, nasseibna keda.

Marwa Rakha said...

Yes anonymous mother .... I guess we need to spread the word and the awareness of our basic rights - customer service post coming up!!

Marwa Rakha said...

Hello ya D ya 7azeen

I am sad too .. you comments are all so right and so painfully valid ... I live every word of what you typed ... I work with the media so I know exactly the kind of crap that is written in press releases and I see how individuals and organizations, me included, bury their heads in the sand ... some lucky strains raise their heads every now and then only to run back to the hole in the sand where they see nothing and feel nothing:(