RIYADH: Saudi volunteers are part of the worldwide army of health care workers on the front line in the battle against the coronavirus.
In April, the Saudi Health Ministry called for volunteers to support the community response against COVID-19 via its platform https://volunteer.srca.org.sa/#!/home.
More than 400 areas of volunteering are covered on the website. There are more than 160,000 registered volunteers, 72,000 of whom are active and have signed up across the Kingdom.
Volunteers are from varying backgrounds; 32 percent of volunteers are female while 68 percent are male. As the Kingdom is in its second phase of slowly returning to normal life, there is still a long way to go as cases continue to be recorded, and health care workers — now more than ever — are needed.
Health care volunteers are assisting in different areas. Some are helping to monitor patients in quarantine, conducting COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction tests and delivering medicine to patients’ homes; some are working in emergency rooms, others are sent out to provide psychological support while others travel to shopping centers and malls to help raise awareness about the precautionary measures.
Duaa Al-Bukhari, 27, a lab technician working at the Kudai field hospital in Makkah, is grappling with the pandemic while her family is in Jeddah less than 100 miles away.
Through her work, she has participated in the mass testing of 2,500 individuals in one of Makkah’s most crowded neighborhoods. She described the experience as challenging but rewarding.
“When I heard about this volunteering opportunity, I was really excited to be a part of it. At the beginning I was scared to volunteer in Al-Nakasah neighborhood, but I knew I had the right potential to face this challenge,” she said.
The Kudai field hospital was set up by the Ministry of Health in coordination with the Armed Forces and in cooperation with the health authorities of the Makkah governorate to cope with the growing number of infected patients in Saudi Arabia.
In Alkhobar, 21-year-old Nebras Al-Hajji, a student training to become an anesthesia technologist, is working as a volunteer at the Al-Arabiya health center hundreds of miles away from the Al-Ahsa home where she usually lives with her family.
Leaving home was difficult, especially during a time of uncertainty. Al-Hajji’s initial reaction was of fear, a natural reaction under the circumstances, but as a passionate medical student she understood that it was her duty to provide assistance where she could, however difficult the situation. “I will not let my fear overcome me; fear is a part of us being human but I will not let it ruin my excitement to be a part of this initiative,” she said.
In Sakaka, 26-year-old Rayan Al-Mutairi, an optometrist, left his home town of Qassim to help health workers screen for COVID-19 cases and increase the public’s awareness about the virus. He has spent the past three months on the frontline along with many other health care workers.