Libyans Unite Against Breast Cancer

By Elisabeth Bond

October 4, 2012   |   0 comments

Elisabeth Bond (Washington, DC)

Breast cancer day in Libya 2012.

For the first time since their 2011 revolution, Libyans took to the streets to celebrate something other than their newly-found political liberty.

On Monday, October 1, hundreds of Libyans marked the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness Month by marching three kilometers through Benghazi in a sea of pink. Holding signs and singing songs, women and activists spread awareness for the widely misunderstood disease.

Dr. Rehab Shembesh, a clinical oncologist and co-founder of The Cure Foundation Libya, explained that many cancer patients feel embarrassment and fail to seek treatment for their ailments due to poor societal acceptance of the disease.

To motivate onlookers and participants into action, the Breast Cancer Awareness March concluded with a spectacularly pink fireworks display. Monday’s event was the first large-scale public awareness campaign for cancer in Libya, and it marked the beginning of a month-long campaign of television and radio public service announcements, pink storefronts in Benghazi’s business district, and educational visits to universities, women’s health clubs, and mosques.

The Breast Cancer Awareness March was hosted by six local civil society organizations, including two organizations funded by Creative’s Libya Community Driven Grants Program (CDGP) – The Cure Foundation Libya and Ayadina Association for Societal Solidarity. Libya CDGP is funded by the US Department of State’s Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI).

Elisabeth Bond, Creative CDGP Technical Manager, Communities in Transition Division