Let’s include the excluded in this fight against Covid-19, When everyone is included, everyone wins!

Apr 11, 2020

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Hi, I am Muazzam Shah Volunteering with Pakistan Red Crescent KP chapter since, 2015.

I am happy to share my own experience regarding the COVID-19 outbreak, which is quite simple. First of all, I think beyond everything this outbreak brought over unity in the entire world. Each nation, individual, organization and institution, all of them are selflessly striving for the eradication of COVID-19 with one vision and religion of HUMANITY. This outbreak made us recognize our roles as youth leaders, while everyone was panicking, only us; volunteers were responding and helping the victimized community. I observed in Pakistan that every organization was collecting donations for daily wagers who are suffering from lockdown but only a few of them were working for transgenders, people with disabilities and minorities and they were ignored in these testing times.

Initially, I started public awareness in the general community about COVID-19. I was also a part of Pakistan Red Crescent’s screening team of suspected cases at Railway station Peshawar. When the government decided to go for lockdown, together with my volunteer friends we started fundraising for the most affected people from lockdown. First, I focused on the transgender community because they have been isolated from the beginning and start delivering them a ration of one month. I have delivered about 70 monthly ration packages to 70 groups of transgenders in three districts. And still working to collect more funds for minorities and persons with disabilities.

I observed that the trans community was following the precautionary protocols seriously, I asked one of them that why you people are so cautious she replied we were not treated as humans in normal times so how would we be treated in this pandemic situation if we got infected. We know that no one will own us so we are helping ourselves. After that, I received positive feedback from transgender’s focal person that thanks for highlighting our issues and taking the initiative now we are receiving donations from different organizations. This moment made me proud that I did something better for a community that has been marginalized.

Some of the following challenges I faced in this pandemic situation:
1. The COVID-19 is quite new for us in Pakistan and the entire world so it was difficult to understand and to aware community about its spread and precautions.
2. It was very tough to collect funds for helping the transgender community because they are marginalized and considered as a social pariah.
3. Lack of personal protective equipment’s to go to quarantine areas.

Due to COVID-19, I experienced the following things first time in my life:
1. Mosques are locked for prayers.
2. People avoid shaking hands and hugs.
3. People are in terror and panic.
4. I saw lockdown for the first time.

I believe there is always a ray of hope. The pandemic brought us on one page to fight against it. The whole nation is strictly following precautionary measures. Health officials, governments, law enforcement agencies, youth leaders and community volunteers, all of them are working together to beat this disaster. Scientists are working 24/7 to find out vaccines for it. Hopefully, we will be shortly successful against it.

Muazzam Shah
Pakistan Red Crescent Society
April 11, 2020
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