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.
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 >>
Know somebody whose Precious life has been affected by accident in UAE ? Please share with us
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]
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 ShahnawazAs 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.
For archives on how this foundation began please go to www.ripsister.com [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.
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.
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.
how death of a loved one changes the meaning of life........