Scurrying around downtown Cairo today, I was very anxious and full of doubts.
My goal was to purchase 500 cans of PediaSure, a nutritional supplement, for the medical convoy to Gaza. Last week the organizer of the convoy received an urgent plea from Gaza for baby formula supplement. His contact in Cairo was able to locate 400 cans of PediaSure, but could I find more?
I checked with the neighborhood pharmacist, a friend of a friend, and he said he would make some calls and try to find 500 cans. We negotiated a fair price and he started calling. Within an hour, he said he had located 375 cans of PediaSure. “Would that be sufficient?” he asked. I jumped and said Alhamdulillah!
My “first world” assumption was that I would pay for the PediaSure with my credit card and reimburse my credit card from the funds donated by many generous Americans. Earlier, the pharmacist said he could take a credit card. ==whew!== But then I learned the suppliers could not. Cash only!
Scratching my head, I knew I couldn’t access several thousand dollars in cash. The Egyptian bank wouldn’t let me withdraw those funds from my US bank. And I certainly couldn’t pull that much cash from the ubiquitous ATMs in downtown Cairo.
I returned to the pharmacist and told him I couldn’t collect that much cash, and he should cancel the order from the suppliers. I felt disheartened but saw no alternatives.
The pharmacist sat down, put his head in his hands, and then looked up. “Let me go talk to my bank and see if they will help.”
Thirty minutes later he returned and said his bank would give him a short-term loan to cover the purchase of the PediaSure so he could pay the suppliers. He swiped my credit card, and the sale was approved. Alhamdulillah!
While he coordinated the delivery of the PediaSure, I went out to a street stall and purchased a small bag to carry the books I had purchased for the library in Gaza.
Five hours later the pharmacist called me and said the PediaSure had arrived. I returned to the store and we hailed a taxi to deliver me and the boxes to the hotel where the medical convoy team was convening.
As I was leaving his store, the pharmacist asked “Who is paying for all of this PediaSure? The United Nations?”
I told him “Nope! Many Americans who care about the Palestinians in Gaza donated money to make this purchase.” Then he said, “Alhamdulillah!”