Muslims Help Haiti

March 11, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Letters from Dr. Reshma Vasanwala with International Medical Corps

2010-03-10T181912Z_1906337752_GM1E63B06GF01_RTRMADP_3_HAITI-USA

President of Haiti Rene Preval (L) shakes hands with U.S. President Barack Obama as they deliver remarks in the Rose Garden after meeting at the White House in Washington, March 10, 2010. 

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

TMO Editor’s note: Here are two emails from Haiti sent by Doctor Reshma Vasanwala. She volunteered her services for Haitian earthquake victims, as has Dr. Khalid Rao from Detroit and other Muslim physicians.

reshma

Hi all,

I arrived in Haiti safely–on a UN plane from Santo Domingo. The airport bar at Port au Prince is buzzing with activity–international NGOs, troops (including the 82nd airborne unit), media, journalists, and aid workers.

We are staying at one of the few standing hotels in Port au Prince–a five star hotel that hosted Angelina Jolie, Sean Penn, Anderson Cooper, and the like.  There are still a lot of CNN folks here and media from all over the world staying at the same hotel. To my surprise, I’m in the lap of luxury—buffet meals, swimming pool,. Its weird that just across the street hundreds of thousands of people are living in tents and slums.

We are not allowed to leave the hotel and we take a private bus everyday to our place of work. Driving just these short distances, one can see the devastation caused by the earthquake and the suffering of the Haitian people.

We passed some tent cities that were said to have 40,000 people living there! There is a lot of unrest on the streets as gangs are fighting each other for territories.

Our group has tents set up in the hospital compound, since the buildings are unsafe to work in. The hospital grounds have been transformed into an entire campus of tents-each providing a different type of specialized medical care. There is a pediatric and neonatal ICU, a regular ICU, HIV and TB tents, general surgery, OB, and ER. However, in most of these tents the doctors only come by every few days, and no one to cover at night, so people simply die.

Our group, IMC, provides Emergency care on this campus and we provide coverage 24hours a day.  I am assigned to the ER–which has been awesome.There are literally hundreds of patients (600-800)  each day, and there is a line several blocks long every morning.  I have never quite experienced anything like this. The tents are like 100 degrees, it smells, there are rats and  it is complete chaos–but its a blast!

I am doing things here that I have never done, simply because there is no one else to call, or everyone else is too busy. I have never provided such substandard care in my life, because we don’t have the tool and resources to provide good care. However, the reality is that for most of these people, this is the best care they have ever received.

A word about the people on the IMC team…there are about 30 volunteers here, and I am so impressed by these people. They are brilliant, passionate, interesting and loads of fun.

I am working the night tonight so I have the day off, but I wish I was back at the ER tent rather than the swimming pool–its been that much fun so far.

Reshma

Sent: Monday, March 08, 2010 8:16 AM:

Working with the IMC group has continued to be a blast. Its really amazing that when people come together for a common purpose, there is a unique bond. Our lives have become really integrated and routine. It sometimes feels like summer camp or a travel experience where you don’t have the tedious routines of running errands or the tending to of details that take up so much time back home– so that you can stay focused on purpose. 

I am getting used to the work in the ER and really like it. Its really frustrating however, because everyday people die and often it feels like we are running a hospice service because there is not much we can offer–especially when we don’t have a full laboratory or radiology service.  The medicine wards, where there seems to really be no medical care going on, seem more like a support group—”Hey, I’m sick, you’re sick–lets hang out together”

Yesterday was especially hard yesterday when a 2 year old died from an unknown cause and we watched the mother cry and scream inconsolably. This really got to me.

It was the first time I had seen such a reaction. I was beginning to think, that the Haitian people, having been through so much, had become stoic or emotionally shut down. Before yesterday, I had not really seen emotion expressed in a way that I might expect when a death occurred or when they heard bad news.

On a more random note, a couple of days ago there was some film people from LA who are starting a reality/documentary series about international community development and they filmed all day at our ER. They got me on camera as they followed me and another doctor deal with a sick kid who needed surgery and the surgeons here did not want to operate. We called the 82nd airborne to get the kid transferred to another facility where the surgery took place and the kid survived.

We’ll see if that scout footage makes it on their first show.

Its hard to believe that I just have a few days left. I think I may come back again very soon.

Reshma

12-11

Community News (V12-I4)

January 21, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Shama Qureshi: Volunteerism and Faith

TUCSON, AZ–For many people retirement means relaxation. Not so for Tucson’s Shama Qureshi. The 73 year old retired school teacher has been working tirelessly as an advocate and tutor children and refugees in the area.

She told the the Arizona Daily Star that she does the volunteer work but she loves it and not because she feels obligated to do it.  Besides as a Muslim she feels that it is her duty to help those in need in whatever way one can.

Her husband of fifty years the Pakistani born Mohsin Qureshi passed away last October. Shama Qureshi, known to some as Sandy, had converted to Islam after meeting her husband at the University of Michigan half a century ago.

Qureshi had helped start Tucson’s Noor Women’s Association more than a decade ahgo. The interfaith organization helps refugees. Qureshi visits several refugee families each week to provide tutoring and support.During the last year the group has helped more than 250 people with rent, food, tutoring and medical expenses.

Muslim physicians offer free medical care

COLUMBUS, OH–A free medical clinic for economically challenged families opens Jan. 20, 2010, at The Ohio State University. The clinic, operated by Muslim physicians and health care professionals, is open to all faiths from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. each Wednesday evening on the university campus in the Rardin Family Practice Center, 2231 N. High St.

The clinic is staffed by physicians, health care professionals, and medical students from The Ohio State University College of Medicine and is affiliated with the Muslim Clinic of Ohio, which also has free clinics in Cincinnati and Dayton.

The university also provides space and other resources at the Rardin location for three additional free clinics: the Ohio Latino Health Clinic, the Asian Health Initiative, and the Columbus Free Clinic meet on alternating days.

Appointments to the Muslim clinic can be made by calling 614-516-3075.

Anti-Muslim flyer denounced

BROOKLYN, NY (News Agencies)–The story repeats itself almost every week. As soon as proposals for a mosque are announced, a malicious campaign is started to malign the Muslim community. This week it is in Sheepshead Bay where an anonymous flyer is being circulated claiming that a Muslim organization behind a proposed mosque supports terrorist acts.

Responding to such vilification the owner of the property, the Muslim American Society, and the Community Board Chair Theresa Scavo, called the people behind the flyer as ignorant who do not understand the spirit and letter of American law guaranteeing freedom of religion.

The latest bout of controversy is the proposed construction of a four-story mosque and community center. The property was bought by a Allowey Ahmed, a Yemeni immigrant, who has been living in Brooklyn for over 40 years. He is in the process of gaining affiliation with the Muslim American Society.

As soon as the word got out the flyer was circulated within several blocks of the property asking residents, “Say no to mosque at 2812 Voorhies Avenue.”

Mahdi Bray, executive director of the MAS, characterized the perpetrators of the flyers as bigots.

“The world doesn’t disintegrate because Muslims come into the neighborhood. It’s not earth shattering to accommodate the First Amendment of the Constitution calling for freedom of religion and the building of mosques reflect the growing demographics of Brooklyn,” he told the Yournabe.com news portal.

Bray said the MAS renounces violence and that Islam, like all other major faiths in the world, is a religion of moderation.

“The whole claim by some that there’s a fifth column trying to destroy the country from within is a rallying call for the bigots and Islamaphobes who like to frighten other Americans about Muslims,” he added.

12-4