17 Mar 2010

AIF opens DRC hospital

Three years of hard work finally came to fruition for Durban-based humanitarian aid agency Al Imdaad Foundation, when it officially unveiled its health care centre in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Thursday. Speaking to VOC's Drivetime from the DRC, the organisation's coordinator Qari Ziyaad Patel said the hospital was a major feat for the agency. The facility is situated in the Bukavu district, which is the capital of the war-stricken south Kivu province. The health care centre will benefit the impoverished community by providing a free or subsidised medical service to those most in need. Many dignitaries attended the opening ceremony including the South African Ambassador to Kinshasa, the Minister of Social Development in the DRC, the governor of South Kivu and the Mayor. "For us at Al Imdaad, it is a watershed moment and will remain in our memories for a very long time to come Insha-Allah. At the same time, whilst we are happy, we also think of the late Mufti Hussein Bhayat, who initiated this entire project about three years ago. We make dua that Allah (swt) accepts this project as a form of sadaqah-tu-Jaariah from him Insha-Allah," Patel expressed. Violence The Bukavu district is situated on the eastern part of the DRC, which borders Rwanda, devastated by an ethnic genocide in 1994. Following the outbreak of violence, many Rwandans fled to Bukavu to seek refuge there. The political situation in the DRC has therefore been a precarious one and this is mainly why a number of peacekeeping forces from the United Nations have set up bases there. The medical centre is located in an extremely impoverished area of Bukavu situated on a hilly plateau. According to Patel, the hospital has been in operation for under a year and thus far, 150 operations have been carried out at this facility. Over 53 babies have been born and 453 patients have been attended to at the facility in one year. The hospital boasts a maternity ward, two laboratories, internal medicine ward, surgical ward, paediatric ward and an eye clinic. The Pakistani battalion and the UN medical peacekeeping forces based in Bukavu have played an instrumental role in setting up the medical facility, Patel said. They will offer free medical services to the respective community. "Alhamdullilah, it gives us great honour, that we have created this medical centre in an area surrounded by poverty in which it will benefit those who need it most. On Thursday, we had a mother who gave birth to a baby, and she named the child Imdaadullah, in gratitude to the Al Imdaad Foundation," he related. 2nd phase The aid agency has already kick-started with the second phase of its project - by building extra medical rooms, supplying sonar equipment and in July, construction will commence on the next ward of this facility. However, Patel said this was not possible without the support of the community. The organization is approaching its eighth anniversary this year and has made huge strides in over 28 impoverished countries. Patel said the agencies humanitarian achievements were largely driven by its donors and the broader Muslim community in South Africa. "An idea started a few days ago has turned into a reality. This shows how we as Muslims, with our collective efforts from all parts of the world, can move mountains. We've seen it with Haiti, Bandaachi and now in Congo. Its clear that we as an ummah can make a positive change in the lives of so many impoverished people in need."
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