As the Covid-19 pandemic continues through 2021, Ismaili youth from around the world have been playing their part on the frontline. From travelling to remote areas to provide healthcare access, to stepping in at short-staffed hospitals, to holding down the fort in Covid wards, young members of the Jamat have stepped up to support citizens and families impacted by the pandemic.

Dr Nadeem Kassam (Tanzania)

As an internal medicine resident at the Aga Khan University Hospital in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Nadeem has been heavily involved in caring for patients in critical care units. In addition to hospital work, he has been travelling to provide healthcare access to people in remote areas of Tanzania. Nadeem has also been involved in voluntary efforts with the Aga Khan Health Board and the Aga Khan Social Welfare Board by servicing patients through phone calls or home visits when required.

Regretting not being involved in community service before, Nadeem feels that this pandemic has given him an opportunity to give back to the community.

“Now I understand the importance of volunteering,” said Nadeem, pointing out that at such a crucial time, it is the duty of the medical community to step forward and help fellow citizens.

“My job satisfaction during the pandemic has been second to none,” said Nadeem, “I always wanted to make a difference in someone’s life by standing with them during difficult times, and knowing that I am needed during this pandemic has pushed me to work harder.” 

Having support to get through tough times can make the world of a difference in someone’s life and Nadeem is content he is in a profession where he gets to support people every day.

Nadeem is hopeful for the future and has been trying hard to convince people that “this too shall pass.” As a believer in the resilience of humans and the advancement of science he knows that we have learnt to live with other diseases such as tuberculosis, cancer, and influenza, and so it is important to stay patient as we learn more about the coronavirus and as new recommendations come in from the World Health Organization and from National Health and Medical Boards. 


Nisha Waliany (USA)

While Nisha graduated with a sociology degree from Texas A&M University, her prior experience as a Certified Nurse Assistant in high school drove her to attend Nursing School where she is currently studying to become an Acute Care Practitioner. Over the last year, the Covid-19 pandemic caused an increased need of health professionals across the world and Nisha has travelled to six different US states and territories to provide nursing care at short-staffed hospitals.

While many people have been dreaming of travelling as lockdowns continue to be instituted, Nisha’s travels are not easy.

Each new hospital is a fresh start where she has to learn the ground rules and policies and work hard to develop a working relationship with her new colleagues. However, she always felt comfortable in her mission because her task of patient care is based on the universal principles of providing pain alleviation and fostering positive development.

Seeing pain and loss of life every day, along with the shortage of personal protective equipment, also meant that she was quite literally at the frontlines of the Covid battle, but Nisha knew that she had to step-up during this critical time as a young and capable health professional. For her, providing care during the pandemic has not only been for the sake of her patients but also for the well-being and safety of future generations.

Even before the pandemic, Nisha was an active volunteer. In her effort to give back, she would help out at first aid stations at Ismaili sporting events and at local jiu-jitsu tournaments. She would also work the nursing shift at Jamatkhana events and took part in health drives for blood pressure monitoring and administering flu shots.


Arifa Parvaiz (Pakistan)

As the team lead of a 17-person nursing staff at one of the Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) in Karachi’s medical wards, Arifa has been at the forefront of the pandemic since the first Covid patient was admitted at AKUH in February 2020. Since then she has spent many sleepless nights worrying about taking care of her staff’s mental health, coping with staffing shortages as medical personnel began catching the coronavirus, and finding the best way to keep patients’ spirits high.

Through it all, she has been motivated by her mother's words that, “at the time of war, soldiers do not hide in their tents.”

The pandemic has called upon all health workers to put their best foot forward and Arifa is motivated to play her part and not back down in the face of difficulties. The pandemic has tested Arifa’s abilities as she has been called upon for both nursing care duties and also to help in the development of negative pressure rooms for infection control and other design and protocol changes that were needed to efficiently care for Covid patients.

It has also been her responsibility to develop ways in which staff can effectively communicate with patients’ families who were not allowed to enter isolated areas and who were anxious to see their loved ones. This meant that Arifa was not only her patients’ caregiver but also the only familiar face around.

In such a situation, both nurses and patients gained solace from each other. Arifa is motivated daily by the blessings and prayers of her patients and the trust that their families have placed in her.



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