By Susan Schwartz, TMO
It is easy to forget that people suffer and die unnecessarily from disease as well as from natural and man made disasters, though the latter make the headlines. It is even easier to believe, as many in this country do, that the disease will never impact their lives. Fortunately their are organizations, impelled by their faith, that address this issue. One of them is Islamic Relief.
Islamic Relief USA, one of the worldâ€™s foremost charities, held its second annual Malaria Conference this past Sunday in Anaheim, Ca. Titled: Bite the Bug, the event included workshops with well known and informative speakers and an end of Conference dinner.
The Conference was both educational and a call to action. The theme of the Conference was: Educate, Communicate and Eradicate.
The event began with a welcome by Mohammed Mertaban. He told the audience that Malaria is a scourge that effects the entire world. Though its exact time of origin remains unknown, it has impacted mankind since the beginning of history. Children constitute a disproportionate number of Malariaâ€™s victims.
Workshops were: Malaria: Beyond A Disease; Malaria Firsthand: Effect on Community and Family, and Eradicate Malaria: As little as $10 can Save A Life.
Dr. Faisal Qazi, a neurologist, began his address by thanking Islamic Relief for two reasons: first for embracing the cause of eradicating Malaria, and second, for recognizing the global impact. He said that one must not only address the epidemiological aspects of the disease – morbidity and mortality – but the economic and social burden the disease imposes.
He cited imperatives from the Holy Quran – tools in any battle fought by Muslims: wisdom, compassion, justice and excellence.
Imam Siraj Wahaj, one of the most revered Islamic figures today, cited some of the many instances of compassion on the part of the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh). â€œLet us have the same compassion as our Prophet (s).â€
He asked the audience to study American history, particularly African American history. Imam Wahaj cited Medgar Evers, an African American killed in the early 1960â€™s for speaking out against the policy of the South which kept his people from voting.
With the Muslim vote â€œYou have to power to do something about governmentâ€, he continued. Muslims have a right to guide this country and to demand more money for Malaria relief.
â€œI have learned so much about Malaria and its effectsâ€ said one young woman toward the end of the workshop.
Malaria, while it is a global concern, particularly affects people in Central and South America; Southeast Asia; Africa, and the Eastern Mediterranean. Malaria can be cured, and it can be prevented. It is a blood disease caused by the bite of the female Anopheles mosquito. It only takes one bite to cause infection and probable, in the absence of treatment, death.
The United Nations has estimated that Malaria could be eradicated by 2015 with the proper international effort. Islamic relief would like to see that happen sooner.
Islamic Relief has offices around the world and works not only with people afflicted with disease but also with people who are the victims of natural and man made disasters. Islamic Relief partners with many other charities both international and local and has NGO status with the United Nations.. The group serves all people regardless of their nationality, race or religion. Islamic Relief has been in Haiti in the earthquakeâ€™s aftermath; Pakistan after the earthquake and floods; Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina; Libya during the current crisis; Republic of the Congo in the aftermath of the recent renewed decades old civil war, and Darfur with its many internally displaced people. The foregoing are but a small portion of the places and times where the presence of Islamic Relief has made and continues to make a difference in saving lives and improving the quality of existence.
To access Islamic Reliefâ€™s web site and find more about the organization, please visit: www.islamicreliefusa.org. To learn more about Malaria and to donate to that cause or the numerous others on the web site, please follow the appropriate links.