Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Muslim Doctors Helping Haiti Victims

Dilshad Ali of IslamOnline.net reports:

When he entered Haiti from neighboring Santo Domingo and made his way into Port au Prince, Dr. Nabile Safdar knew that nothing he had been told or seen in television footage prepared him for the scene on the ground.

The numbed attitude of the Haitians whom Safdar encountered reflected the level of destruction of Haiti's capital city by the devastating earthquake in late January. "Most had lost their homes, and everyone had lost a family member," Safdar said. "The people we were seeing were in a state of shock and disbelief. They were very stoic and not sure what was going on. We knew we had to help right away."

Safdar was on the first team of Muslim doctors dispatched by the Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA) to Haiti a mere five days after a severe earthquake struck the nation. After scrambling to find a way to help, IMANA forged a partnership with the Comprehensive Disaster Response Services (CDRS), which was already on the ground in Haiti doing the logistical work needed to set up a medical clinic, and AIMER Haiti — a Haitian group, which scouted out a location.

IMANA, an association of doctors of the Islamic faith established nearly 40 years ago, does not have relief work as its primary focus, said Dr. Ismail Mehr, a four-year-member of IMANA and head of its relief committee. The mission of the group is to provide a forum and resource for Muslim physicians and other healthcare professionals, promote a greater awareness of Islamic medical ethics and values, advocate in health care policy, and provide relief.

"Because of our deen (Islamic Religion), the relief part becomes inevitable," Mehr said. "So when this whole disaster occurred, the first thing the president of IMANA and me said to each other was, 'How can we help in Haiti?'"

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