Syed Mukarram Nazeer, Canada Correspondent
The year 2020 saw the acceptance of Covid-19 virus as a health problem by health authorities across the world. Originally thought to be a localised health crisis, it has slowly spread around the world. With an ethnically diverse population travelling to and from their country of origination, it was a just a matter of time before Covid-19 reached Canada.
Under the guidance of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa, Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Canada restarted its Emergency Preparedness initiative in September 2019, reported National Secretary Umur-e-Ama Canada, Shafqat Mahmood Sahib. Information packages were prepared and delivered to create awareness and readiness among Jamaat members.
These contained details of what to have in a “Basic Emergency Kit” and what and how much food to acquire for “Emergency Food Supply”. With the help of local Jamaat office-bearers, the packages were delivered to every household.
A follow up campaign was launched to check that all houses had received it. Help was provided where needed. In addition, Jamaat made provisions to stockpile supplies for the vulnerable or those impacted directly by the disaster.
In January 2020, the homeopathic preventive prescription was prepared and distributed among Jamaat members at a national level, covering almost all Jamaats in Canada.
A national Emergency Response Cell (ERC) was established under the leadership of Naib Amir Canada and Chairman Humanity First Canada, Dr Syed Muhammad Aslam Daud Sahib. The mandate of ERC is to provide guidance and offer assistance during the Covid-19 pandemic. Working closely with government agencies, ERC is helping adjust Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Canada programmes and activities to remain compliant with government directives. For Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Canada, being prepared meant designation of essential operations and plans to reassign staff and volunteers from non-critical functions if absence of staff or volunteers occurs.
Another important task undertaken was a detailed review of the Jamaat’s IT infrastructure’s ability to support an increase in remote work and manage any added load e.g. use of video, telephonic and digital systems and an increase in the use of live streaming and conference calls. Confirmation of the chain of command and back-ups for leaders and their critical roles have been defined. Policy and practices are established to limit face-to-face meetings and travel when the risk level is high.
A detailed communications plan within the Jamaat was established to ensure that members are always regularly updated and remain in contact. This meant establishing multiple communication channels to effectively convey public health information, government directives and Jamaat instructions in an efficient and timely manner. Regional ERCs were established to offer assistance to Jamaat members. Local Jamaat office-bearers’ help was engaged to ensure that Jamaat members were on track with the Emergency Preparedness plan.
As per government directives, Jamaat events were initially limited to a maximum attendance of 50 people. This number was further reduced by the government. Presently all mosques and prayer centres are closed in compliance. Jamaat members are asked to offer prayers in congregation with their families at home.
All Jamaat programmes and events are cancelled. This includes major events like national Majlis-e-Shura Canada 2020, as well as National Jalsa Salana Canada 2020. The last Jamaat event held was Jalsa Yaum-e-Masih-e-Maudas. For the whole of Canada, a single event was held at Baitul Islam Mosque Toronto, under strict attendance limitation. Jamaat members from across Canada participated through live streaming, with more than 11,000 viewers.
At the time of writing of this report, Canada is in a partial shutdown situation. All non-keyworkers are asked to work from home, with a strict limit on all public gatherings. As a result, families are at home, including the youth. The Jamaat has responded to their need as well.
Quran classes and other educational classes are being held over the phone and through conference calls. Watching MTA, offering of congregational prayers with family, recitation of the Holy Quran and remaining occupied in the worship of Allah is being promoted regularly. Meetings of office-bearers are now being held via conference calls. Jamaat members are advised to donate online, instead of paying in person. Regular communications to office-bearers and Jamaat members are being sent through messaging services.
Jamaat members are encouraged to stay home, practice physical distancing and avoid crowds along with enhanced hygiene practices. Local Jamaats have been asked to ensure the well-being of sick, elderly and other vulnerable members. Auxiliary organisations are playing an important role in this. Lajna Imaillah Canada is working diligently by contacting their members regularly to ensure they have food, medicine and other essentials.
Education of members regarding Covid-19, especially the precautions for elderly, is an ongoing project. Majlis Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya Canada is performing various security and khidmat-e-khalq duties. Khuddam are offering assistance with grocery and prescription pickups. Majlis Ansarullah Canada is reaching out to all senior citizens to check their well-being and offering any assistance needed.
Humanity First is assisting the general public by offering food hampers to hundreds of families every week. Their food bank is open seven days a week, with food being delivered to homes of the needy. Newcomers and refugees to Canada are being provided additional support and financial assistance during the outbreak. Grocery and prescription pickup services, along with over the phone counselling and guidance services are being offered.
Humanity First has offered its services to federal and provincial emergency services and is on standby. At the request of WHO, Humanity First has established the Emergency Command Centre and is on standby for deployment of the Emergency Medical Team.
May Allah protect all Jamaat members from all harms and bring relief to all of humanity. Amin.