Volunteer through a pandemic - Supporting Migrants in Hardship

Volunteer through a pandemic - Supporting Migrants in Hardship
"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".

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. 

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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.