Sunday, November 20, 2011

November 20, 2011: World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims; Suraya Foundation

Today, November 20, is a World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. This annual day of remembrance initiated by and for victims, and the bereaved (of fatalities), began in 1993 under the auspices of the European Federation of Road Traffic Victims. Since 2003 both the UN and the WHO have promoted recognition on the third Sunday of November, for the victims and bereaved families.

I received news today of this year's acknowledgment through the Suraya Foundation. I first became aware of this foundation via a comment by the founder, Mohd Shahnawaz, "Shanz", on my post: Saudi Arabia Takes the Gold! In MVA’s, RTA’s, Car Accidents/ Fatalities/ Injuries. Since then, while I have long been planning a post on Suraya's Story, the foundation has grown impressively. It has been well designed and executed with a high degree of integrity from the very beginning. Now it has a number of adherents via Facebook, and Twitter, as well as the website; and, a number of important campaigns to not only raise awareness but change laws and behaviour in an effort to decrease the appalling statistics on road traffic accidents in the UAE, and by extension in the GCC.

Our Campaigns

The following are the campaigns Suraya Foundation has done to date valuing to about $60,000. Thanks to our Creative Sponsors and Volunteers to make this happen.

The "Are You Reckless?" Campaign― A hard hitting video and radio campaigns aimed at getting drivers to question their driving habits. Our main objective of this project was to provide case studies to governments and NGOs to study our campaign and adopt full time road safety campaigns. Watch the campaign here and SHARE it with your friends and families >>

Road Safety Comics - spreading awareness and teaching principles of road safety in a fun way, we have released a series of road safety comics. Have a look at the Rayden Kusumo's road safety comics >>

Share your story - We would like to hear your side of the story on how reckless accidents have affected your lives. Share your story and read the how reckless accidents have affected other people >>

The Oath Project ― a vow encouraging everyone to take the challenge of being a safer driver. If you believe that you’re a safe driver, please join us and take the oath >>

What is Killing people in the Gulf? ― an information graph completed on June 2010 (40 hours of data) highlighting the number of people killed by road accidents and its effect on the Middle East’s economy. Have a look at the infograph and please share it with other drivers >>

Suraya Foundation
Know somebody whose Precious life has been affected by accident in UAE ? Please share with us

Suraya Foundation
MIND MAP - This is our partial Suraya Foundation Mind map of followers. The cross are the places we need help with. Suggestions and Feedbacks are welcome.

Suraya Foundation grew out of a brother's love for his sister, and anguish at her death.

Suraya as a kid

Suraya Akhter (b.17 July 1986 - d. 17 March 2009) was a fashion designing student who lost her life in a reckless accident in United Arab Emirates last year. The accident was due to combination of reckless driving and bad road design. Since the only witness (Suraya's friend Aysha involved in crash) was suffering from amnesia, the court of RAK had preposterously ruled that it was Suraya's mistake and she must have committed suicide. The investigation was halted but accounts of accidents by police did not add up. Her brother, Mohd Shahnawaz narrates the story of highlights of her life and that unfaithful day. [Full story here]

Suraya Akhter

The Suraya Foundation has been formed to prevent accidents that can be averted by targeting drivers on psychological level. Since "Suraya" means "cluster of seven stars", we have adopted seven principles for our campaign to meet our objectives. The foundation has been formed to help ensure that you could be spared from the misery of suffering from the loss of a loved one. This foundation ensures that you and your loved ones are protected from reckless accidents' i.e. prevention of reckless accidents by changing attitudes of unsafe drivers and helping them adopt the principles of safe driving. - Mohd Shahnawaz

For archives on how this foundation began please go to [Rest in Peace My Little Sister]. Please share with us your story and read other stories on how the road accident epidemic is damaging the lives of thousands around the world.
As Mohd suggests, it is important to share stories for healthy grieving, to make meaning of senseless deaths, and to help effect change. Also, as he suggests, while road traffic accidents, and particularly fatalities, are unusually high in the GCC, they occur around the world.

HAPPY NATIONAL DAY! Proudly celebrate the 39th birthday of UAE and keep waving that flag! Drive Safely to the National Day Celebrations!

A number of stories come to my mind:

--a Moroccan child psychiatrist telling me of the number of head injuries they see in children as a result of traffic accidents, whether that is a child on the back of a parent's moped, or playing in the street, or travelling as an unbelted passenger in a car. In my own experience, a lack of adequate street lighting, play areas, and safety measures on 2 and 4 wheeled vehicles contributes to these statistics;

--a Canadian friend who was driving her usual commute home on a major highway, and was cut off by a transport truck trying to make his time to his next weigh station; she slammed into him (making the accident her fault), and the wreckage to her car was so bad that the provincial police notified her husband that she had died in the crash; by the time he got there, they had discovered she was alive, and she was taken by ambulance to a local hospital, then directly by helicopter to a major medical trauma centre. She had a head injury, a broken nose, teeth, jaw, clavicle, ribs, pelvis, and, most sadly to me, a broken left heel from slamming on the brake so hard. The head injury has left her with weakness and reduced feeling on her left side (face, neck, arm, and leg). She has made an amazing recovery, had children, and resumed her career. Yet she still suffers medical and psychological consequences.

--my sister's friend had a collision with a truck while driving home for the weekend during the winter. She hit an icy patch and skid at high speed on the highway into the truck and then the partition. She died instantly--at 23.

--more than one pregnant patient in an irreversible coma after a car accident, maintained on life support until the healthy fetus could grow to viability and be delivered to the grieving father, and families.

--a woman and her family I saw for family therapy. Her husband was on his way to the hospital to see her and their new only baby for the first time, and was killed in a car accident. The whole family was traumatised, and I began seeing them months after the event, when the initial shock and coping mechanisms were giving way to a fuller realization of the event and its consequences.

On this day of remembrance, please share your stories here, and please check out the Suraya Foundation (website, Facebook, Twitter), its efforts, and how you might help.

Related Posts:
Saudi Arabia Takes the Gold! In MVA’s, RTA’s, Car Accidents/ Fatalities/ Injuries-Includes an important video, an analysis of causation, and academic and journalistic references.

R.I.P my little sister
how death of a loved one changes the meaning of life........


majed said...

نعوذ بالله من شر الطرق I have lost a mother side uncle to a traffic accident,it is other thing that he had used up many of his spare lives there was to previous accidents he had, as there hardly was in him any bone that had not been broken at least once, finally died after hitting a truck with his motorbike at age of 54 ,he really was a lion in human body who lived his life to the full,the word fear and its synonym were not written in his dictionary may Allah have mercy upon his soul.

And also my mother side cousin who is also my yougist brother in law survived two of his friends who were accompanying him in an accident but with 2 metal joints and a rod in his body with some sort of sheet for bone to cover his brain, but thank God he became as perfect and cute as he was after many plastic surgeries on his face.

Now,to the story that breaks my heart,the youngest son of my colegue at work who is only 16 years old had accident,he was coming home from school with his friend who has a car,on the way they met with another friend who was also driving a car,they started pushing each on the street,unfortunately one of them panicked and hit into lamp post, the boy who was driving died instantly, and the son of my coligue had gone into a gomma for one month the strage thing he has nothing broken or damaged in him as all doctors say, there only was a blood clot on the brain that has draind clean by time. now he is moving his head,arms around and little bending his legs too, but the problem is that he is not talking we hope it is only due to tracheostomy which we do not know why it is still there in the first place, any way this only one side of the problem of my friend.
the darker side is that my proud and respectable fried has become bankrupt in another word we can say this accident has turned him into a begger who knocks the doors well-known philanthropist for charity to pay hosptal bills, and his elder son who was only six months away from graduation from Amman dropped his studies and another son who has mental problem stopped his medication roaming the streets and the whole family is eating bread with curd to survive my friend is very strong I know people who comitted suicide for much lesser problems, please pray for him and his son.
May Allah protect you all from
such ordeals and mishaps.Amen.

Chiara said...

Majed--thank you for your comment, and for sharing your experiences, and the tragic one of your colleague. Is this a colleague in Saudi Arabia? So sad about his son, who must be unable to breath on his own due to brain damage, and so needs a respiratory tube. what you describe in terms of financial hardship can happen to anyone in a country without full public coverage of health care costs. Your colleague is indeed a strong person to weather such hardships and to have the courage to ask for needed help. He and his family are in my thoughts and prayers.

Thank you for your comments on previous posts as well. It is good to see you back, although I fully understand your wish to spend the maximum amount of time with your family during your vacation home. It is too bad you had to cur it short. I had sent you an email, worried about your silence, but I am glad you stopped commenting for such a good reason, and also glad that you now have time to comment again.

I hope others will also share their experiences of the ramifications of accidents, especially in countries where laws are lax or loosely enforced.

Anonymous said...


Yes,this friend is in Saudi Arabia he works with me, and he has been here for 35 years,he has lived in Germany for 2 years and on tourist Visa in canada for more than 4 years in the 70s and has seen most of Europe, he is Ethiobian born Yemeni he is the age of my father(but he is what we call in Yemen a socialist person that a free minded person) he came here to KSA from Canada to see his sick mother and she did not let go of him and he is stuck here since then,so far he has been very lively and lighthearted person but after what happened to his son we avoid talking to him as we can clearly see the tears that keep glittering in his eyes are about to break off their leashes, as this son is his youngest and the dearest, we keep blowing spirit and courage in him to keep him from breaking down,as this is all we can do as our hands can not reach as far as what our eyes can see.

Medecine that once was the crown of all professions has become mere business it is not a mission any more, Doctors are out there not serve and help people they are there to capitalizing on people `s helplessness,sorrows,miseries,my brother in law whose story I have mentioned above survived after Almighty Allah `s mercy because he was taken to Apollo hospital as his isurance policy covers upto $50000 while his both companions where taken to a goverment hospital where the poor are usually put aside to die, as it is considered by the doctors that it is more euthanasic to spare the poor patients from pain when the families can not bear the expenses.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

Before I was 20 I lost 6 close friends to motor vehicle accidents.

The most distressing for me was one of a 24 year old firend who had been a bit of a wild child but whose life was taking on a more serious adult tone. We we together at our cottage. Late he left with another friend to get him home in time for the Catholic Mass (important in those days). Being tired the pulled off the road to rest a little: one sleeping across the front seat, the other, the back. A driver who had not slept in 24 hours fell asleep at the wheel and ran off the road into their small car. Both young men died. The next day we got home not knowing of this only to find out shortly before the accident was a front page photo on a Toronto newspaper.

Anonymous said...



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