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ISLAMIC MEDICAL EDUCATION RESOURCES-04

0611-VOLUNTEERING FOR SOCIAL WELFARE AND DISASTER RELIEF

Lecture at the Musolla of the Kulliyah of Medicine International Islamic University Kuantan Malaysia by Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr. on Saturday 11, November 2006

1.0 VOLUNTEER WORK AS BROTHERHOOD

Volunteering to work to help those in need is a supreme form of sadaqat because it enables bonds of brotherhood to be forged between those who help and those who are helped in a practical and direct way. The most urgent needs for volunteer work for medical students and medical professionals are in the areas of social welfare and disaster relief because they are closely related to the health professions. It is better for health professionals to volunteer in these two area and leave other fields to more relevant professions. Volunteering is essentially providing skilled manpower in a time of need to work without material recompense and in the expectation of ajr from Allah (SAW).

 

2.0 VOLUNTEERING FOR SOCIAL WELFARE

Poverty is defined in absolute and relative terms and its level varies from place to place. Individual poverty is due to lack of saleable skills, lack of knowledge, lack of opportunities, and misfortunes due to failed economy or discrimination. The blind, the aged, the mentally and the physically handicapped are incapable of working.

 

Eradication of poverty can be alleviative or curative. The alleviation is providing assistance. Cure is by job creation, job training/apprenticeship, education, job search/match, and assuring a minimum wage. Poverty is prevented by compulsory saving, strengthening the family, crisis intervention, ensuring employment, job training, and inculcating a work ethic.

 

Mutual help in society, takaful al ijtimae, is by charity and zakat al maal. Charity should be temporary while poverty curative measures are undertaken. Social network are needed to guarantee basic necessities to all people. The social safety net includes the extended family, community organizations, and the government.

 

Voluntary work assists the elderly, the handicapped, and the mentally ill. The social welfare institutions involved in social work are: hospitals and clinics, schools, orphanages, homes for the elderly and the handicapped.

 

The role of government in social welfare should be limited to regulation, monitoring, or funding. Social welfare work should be in the hands of private societal organizations. Several social interventions can eradicate poverty such as nasiihat for sinners and negligent parents, lifestyle changes, control of drug abuse, and supporting the family to survive.

 

3.0 VOLUNTEERING FOR DISASTER RELIEF

A crisis or a disaster situation is said to exist when the magnitude of the problem or its speed of evolution and progression overwhelm the usual coping mechanisms. Characteristics of a disaster are immediate danger to life, unstable and unpredictable situation, events happening quickly, emotions high, and no routine or standard responses.

 

Man-made disasters are those in which humans are involved directly in the causation such as: war/violence, economic disruption, political instability, and social crisis. Non man-made disasters are disasters that happen without any direct involvement of humans such as epidemic disease, drought, crop failure, famine, hurricanes, typhoons, flooding, and earthquakes.

 

Managing a disaster requires a full assessment of its human, geographical, social / psychological, financial / resources, and technological dimensions Disasters can be anticipated and can be prevented.

 

The aim of crisis management is to reverse the situation back to normal or limit the damage done. Crisis management requires speed in information gathering, deciding, and implementing. Because of the rapid change in status quo, decisions must be updated continuously.

 

Systematic disaster management involves assessing the situation, assessing potential development, assessing side effects, determining who can be involved, stopping actions that make the situation worse, deciding the strategy and alternative strategies, continuous review and assessment, and avoiding panicking.

 

The following processes should go on continuously during disaster management: assessing, planning, implementing, and evaluation. Tracking progress of a crisis must be timely and accurate. Prioritizing and decision-making are undertaken under pressure of time. Decisions are made on less that full information more often than in normal situations. Intuition based on previous experience plays a more prominent role. Routines are very good for dealing with crises. There must be a recognized leader.

 

Speed of response is very important in a rapidly developing crisis situation. Quick intervention at the right time can limit the damage. A few crises can become chronic problems if the causative agent continues operating unchecked or if the primary cause leads to secondary crises that become chronic and are not checked. Most crises are self-limiting and are time-limited. Speed of response is very important to limit the damage. Late intervention serves no purpose because the damage is already done and the crisis may be over.

 

In an emergency you may not have the luxury of using the ideal approach. Speed is important and we may have to use less that ideal quick and dirty solutions. As far as possible you must avoid creating future problems in our haste to resolve a current crisis. Charismatic leaders usually emerge at times of crisis. They are usually very effective in crisis management.

 

Each disaster is unique. There are no fixed rules that can cover management of all disasters. There are however some general principles. Many crises may have to be waited out. Time is the ultimate solution. Epidemics of infectious diseases are self-limiting in time if spread of the contagion can be controlled. Preventing movement into and out of the stricken region is a first preliminary measure. Spread of the infection to the healthy can be prevented by appropriate measures of vaccination and other precautions against infection. Interventions in a crisis situation are always associated with some risk. The intervention may inadvertently cause more damage. It may not achieve its goal or it may close off other more viable options. Having a fallback plan minimizes the risk.

Professor Omar Hasan Kasule November 2006