Monday, September 7, 2009

AMHP volunteers organize Health Screening at Humanitarian Day in Inland Empire of southern CA

Sumaira Arastu

(Ontario, California) Humanitarian Day, a day dedicated to serve the homeless, was a tremendous success this past Saturday. Despite the overwhelming heat and long weekend, over fifty volunteers dedicated their time and energy towards serving the homeless at the Mercy House, a homeless shelter located in Ontario, CA.

Humanitarian Day has developed into an international phenomenon thanks to the efforts of people like Umar Hakim, a long time organizer of Humanitarian Day. Hakim explained that Humanitarian Day is the result of a social network of volunteers, organizations and institutions that share resources to plan such projects. This network is organized by The Coalition to Preserve Human Dignity.

American Muslim Health Professionals (AMHP) had the honor of participating in Humanitarian Day this weekend. AMHP members worked with the Shifa Free Clinic of San Bernadino to organize a large scale health screening. With the effort of about fifteen volunteers stationed at seven booths it was possible to conduct body mass index, blood sugar, blood pressure and vision testing. Additionally, experts in health care including dentists, nutritionists, pharmacists, and Shifa Free Clinic Physicians provided counseling sessions to the participants. Those individuals in need of further care were referred to the Shifa Clinic for free services.

The event was a great success for both the volunteers and participants. Almost 200 people were able to benefit from the services provided at Humanitarian Day. The volunteers’ commitment to making this event a success is best summarized by Iyad Afalqa, the AMHP lead coordinator. Afalqa stated that “This is really when one can relate to what it means to be needy. Today we execute or spiritual strength of Ramadan into physical action and also experience the plight of the needy.”

AMHP is pleased that the event was a success but understands that there is much more work to be done to alleviate the plight of the disenfranchised. Dr. Faisal Qazi, the President of AMHP, commented that “Such opportunities to serve those that are living in the most dire circumstances can never be frequent enough, but while we must continue to provide direct charitable services, we should also strive to make systematic changes in our social settings to benefit those in need.” Dr. Qazi hopes to further AMHP’s commitment to improving access to health care through participating in more projects of this nature. Thus far AMHP has helped organize and participated in nine service projects and four educational forums on health reform as part of the United We Serve Campaign. President Obama initiated this Campaign to call upon all Americans to engage in public services.

It is important to harness the efforts of all those that can donate their time, energy, and/or resources in order to truly accomplish the goals of projects like Humanitarian Day. Naim Shah, the founder of ILM Foundation and a pioneer of the Humanitarian Day project, reminds us that "Reward is granted each of us for good ideas and intentions, but a greater reward is reserved for those who are permitted by God to carry them out in to action."

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