Volunteer through a pandemic - Supporting Migrants in Hardship
By Dr. Zeba un Naher
I was volunteering with MRC from the very beginning of the COVID19 response and was involved with providing support in MRC’s Risk Communication and Community engagement activity. I conducted numerous in-person information sessions as a facilitator sharing COVID19 information and preventive measures to minimize spread of the virus. As a volunteer of MRC, I also worked alongside HPA’s contact tracing teams and one of my main work there was to communicate with migrants exposed to positive case on the next steps and provide guidance on behalf of the authorities.
Migrants, especially undocumented migrants living in our community are one of the most vulnerable members of our community who needed additional support and guidance to understand what was happening. As a migrant, I was able to communicate this vital information in my native language which allowed us to address the spread of misinformation and provide important information regarding COVID19. During these efforts, I met many migrants who were already facing challenges due to the onset of the pandemic, some were facing economic hardship due to loss of employment and were struggling to meet basic needs. Many others were concerned about access to healthcare and possible deportation either due to testing positive for COVID19 or being exposed. With many migrants living in small, confined places and their hesitancy to communicate, it was very challenging for us to provide the necessary information and reassurances on many instances.
One incident which will remain with me is of a migrant worker who was one of the direct contacts of 26 others in a residence. Due to his legal status, he was hesitant to provide any details which made it very difficult for us to trace him, but we eventually managed to find them after carrying out multiple follow up calls. During my follow up call, he told me that “you people just saved our lives, I will never forget you. I am not dying and Insha Allah I will be able to return to my mother”.
There are many such stories of how we were able to help many migrants in need, with the support and ANNUAL REPORT 2020 guidance provided by MRC and HPA. The prompt action taken to address many of the concerns and issues, also allowed us to reach and provide vital assistance to many who were struggling at the time.
Like so many others, COVID19 has been very challenging for me personally as well. During the initial outbreak, due to the many restrictions, I was apart from my beloved mother who was at the time living alone back home in Bangladesh. While I was helpless not to be with her, I was constantly in communication with her to ensure her well-being remotely, speaking with her regularly until I was able to go back home.
As a migrant in a foreign country, I have learnt a lot through volunteering with MRC the past 4 years. I learnt how to stay humble, and I know that it requires a lot of courage to work towards humanity. My experiences have enabled me to fearlessly work towards humanity. Being able to provide support and assistance to someone in need, brings a strong feeling of satisfaction which overwhelms me and always puts a smile on my face.
Dr. Zeba un Naher is a member and a volunteer of MRC. She is a trained Psychological First Aid Provider and a trainer.
Dr. Zeba is from Bangladesh and currently works at Maldives National University as an Assistant Professor in Biochemistry. As assistant Professor of Maldives national university she served one year working as a member of the Appeal Committee of the University. She has been a lead figure in many migrant support related activates and efforts in our community with MRC.