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29 November 2021 / 23. Rabi-Uth-Thani 1443

The WF Covid-19 Task Force Report

 

When the Covid-19 crisis came about, The World Federation reacted swiftly to meander itself into a position to address the challenges.

It set about forming a task force that comprised of seven work streams. These were:

  1. Economic Stream
  2. Supplies Stream
  3. Islamic Education and Medical Stream
  4. Spiritual & Media Stream
  5. Communication Stream
  6. Data Stream
  7. Mental Health Stream

There was a tremendous amount of work undertaken during its formation from mid-March to the end of May. We will look at the work undertaken in these streams in a bit more detail below.

 

You can read and download the full report here.

 

The work that was undertaken fell into these buckets:

  • Modelling and desktop analysis that were initiated early on with the formation of the task force;
  • The above was enriched with Needs assessment and data collection from the Federations;
  • Involvement of key talent (modelling, independent professionals) made the work credible and robust;
  • Networking and collecting funds to disburse to those less fortunate;
  • Continuous modelling as new information came to bear as well as continuous monitoring of the disbursement.

The key outcomes from this stream were:

  • Economic modelling and suggested proposal to the Economic Representatives of the Regional Federation
  • An amount was agreed upon unanimously for the first phase to cover needs over 2-3 months and approved by all regions
  • Amount collected and disbursed to date:
    • Most of the funds raised were allocated for disbursement to Pakistan, India and Africa which were the hardest hit financially;
    • 5000 PPE gears and body bags were dispatched to Europe and Africa;
    • Further phases modelled initially but work in progress to update model and reallocations based on quality reporting and data in the event of prolonged pandemic regime(s);

This stream was critical to the work being undertaken by the Task Force. The funds raised and distributed has had a tremendous impact on the recipients as was aptly put by a volunteer from India who said, “The WF provided economic support that enabled us to reach out to more than 1500 families in dire need of basic necessities and rations”. The same sentiment repeated itself with stories from Pakistan and Africa. We cannot end this stream without recognizing the contribution of the donors who have been tremendous in their giving. May Allah grant them more. Ameen.

 

This stream undertook:

  • To correspond with various regions on their initial needs with regards to supply;
  • To work with the Economic Team and Treasury to deliver on the needs identified;
  • To ensure that the logistical work of delivery in a legally compliant manner is conducted well.

The key achievements of this stream were:

  • PPE kits were generously donated via a donor which would fulfill the near-term need in AFED and CoEJ. Thus 1000 PPEs in CoEJ and 4000 in AFED were collected and delivered with the help of another generous donor;
    • CoEJ: PPE’s received in Europe;
    • AFED: Mombasa has confirmed receiving, awaiting customs processing in Nairobi and in DSM the logistics are well under way;
    • NASIMCO has also raised the need for PPS’s and is currently being looked at from both a sourcing and a logistical perspective;
    • Pakistan and India Federation also have needs on this front and the WF is exploring the local market for the supply of PPEs..

Given the challenges of transportation, clearing and forwarding in these difficult times as well as overcoming shortages of PPE’s, the leads and volunteers of this stream need to be commended for their exemplary work. They sourced donors, worked on the logistics to ensure compliance and sent these shipments to the various countries where needed.

 

This stream was another key stream that required management proactively and with sensitivity given the inevitable outcome of a pandemic. 

This stream undertook

  • Realized that the risk of infection & deaths was almost inevitable, communication channels with Agha’s office in Najaf and Qum were activated for guidance;
  • Asked questions proactively and prompt responses were received;
  • Drafted the documents in the form of guidance sheets which were in turn provided to the global communities;
  • Formed a joint team comprising of community scholars in conjunction of the Islamic Education Team of the WF. Together with advice from medical experts within the community led to a series of guidance documents that allowed for death and death services to be Islamically and Medically compliant.

Thus, the key work undertaken here were:

  • Multiple guidance documents were published and translated;
  • Many of the Q&A and Guidance documents from Agha’s office were quite pioneering as no other Ithnaasheri organization had published before us. Our documents became the key resource material from which other entities sought guidance from;
  • The positive impact of these documents was well appreciated across all spectrums.

One needs to be mindful that whilst the work undertaken here seems relatively straight-forward, it however comes with a responsibility to ensure that the guidance is well presented and explained to ensure its correct application. So, kudos to this team for its phenomenal work.

 

This stream probably got the most exposure during the task forces’ tenure. The work that was produced was of a very high quality and was extremely well received. 

This stream undertook:

  • Produced Live shows to connect our global community through the pandemic during our most spiritual and holiest of nights and days;
  • Produced clips that were educational and topical – and easily relatable throughout the pandemic and beyond;
  • Enhanced and created awareness of the various streams’ outputs and initiatives.

Their outputs included:

  • 7 Live Shows produced with each more than 900 views (even during peak Shahr Al-Ramadhan times when literally there were other programs going on at the same time);
  • 90 LINK videos (typically 3 – 6 minutes long) were created and aired – which serves as a great repository for the organization during lockdown;
  • Amazing ratings for the shows and video content were received. It was an extraordinarily positive and energizing effort from the team;
  • There is a burial video is almost ready and will be released soon.

The range of productions and the quality was of a high quality. A great feedback that was received stated, “The community has greatly benefited from the very informative initiatives of the WF during the current turbulent times. We pray for the continued success of this strategically important institution and are looking forward to the dissemination of even more rich content as well as a multi-lateral and innovative program with the regards to the needs of our global community at the Macro level.

 

This stream was created to:

  • Connect with the Regional Federations, Jamaat and grassroots around the world with the WF, it’s Regional Members’ and Jamaats to share initiatives, challenges and success stories during the COVID-19 Pandemic; 
  • Gather, collate, articulate and eventually in the most effective manner communicate the initiatives of the COVID-19 TF Streams; 
  • Worked together with the WF Secretariat and in particular the Media Stream to reach wider audience.

The eventual output was:

  • 6 Weekly COVID-19 Newswires that were written and contained an executive summary and a roundup of TWF COVID-19 initiatives, both regional and global in nature;
    • Highlights/deep dives from regions and intra-regional/jamaat collaboration;
    • Topical articles on mindsets and heroes in our communities;
    • Feedback and appreciation of these newswires have trickled in both from the federation members as well as grassroots;
    • Provided a collaboration layer for the WF Secretariat, Media team and volunteers to come together to work efficiently with the plethora of COVID-19 communication material (on top of the BAU activities that the WF is undertaking).

Connecting the whole world is as easy as it is challenging. Communication if not done well can be divisive. So, to manage this stream required a balancing act to build relationships thus garnering trust to ensure material is received on time. Nevertheless, it was a great experience and we hope that the readers and viewers thoroughly enjoyed the output.

 

The key objectives were:

  • To gather data on the infected and the casualties in the WF regions to discern insights, information sharing and enable decision making by the task force, regions and jamaats;
  • To provide a framework for data collection that met privacy and legislation standards;
  • To combine the data with additional data including the needs assessment for the relief/economic work stream as well as hotline data from the mental health stream.

This stream delivered:

  • A data infrastructure set-up was modelled which included the ability to integrate additional data from other work streams;
  • A Power BI visualization was created to ensure easy presentation and assimilation of data;
  • A dashboard uploaded to TWF website to provide grassroots visibility into COVID-19 in our community.

Whilst streams like this one may not get the kudos it ought to get, it is a key deliverable to provide meaningful data for important decisions to be made. Thus, one can never underestimate the importance of such work. The feedback received on the graphics was deemed to be “informative”, “attractive”, “helps raise the awareness” etc.

 

This stream was tasked with:

  • Creating initiatives, awareness and support relating to mental health that was and is expected to be a great challenge during the COVID-19 Pandemic;
  • Setting-up a help line and work with different regions that may not have the infrastructure to provide help in their time of need;
  • Working with other streams, e.g. with media, and participate in the shows or info clips to reach a wide audience in creating greater awareness on Mental Health during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The Mental Health stream:

  • Pitched the need at the end of March to the Task Force which was very much welcomed.
  • Proposed going live with a trial Mental Help Support Line. This was presented on 14th April.
  • Trained 14 volunteers across the US, Canada and Pakistan to assist in this worth cause (4 days ~ 8hrs in total)
  • Set up a Zoom based platform where confidential and an anonymous calls’ facility was set-up between the times of 3.00 -10.00 pm.
  • Represented by Sister Zamina Mithani, participated in a COVID-19 live show during Shahr Al-Ramadhan with panel of experts globally which garnered over 1000 views.  She also created a COVID-19 LINKS clip – available on the WF YouTube channel as a future resource. Dr Salehmohammed also participated in regional media initiatives and talk shows as well to continuously foster education in this very sensitive but important area.

This stream needed to manage this whole project with a lot of sensitivity, be cognizant of the laws of each country with regards to privacy, find mechanisms and tools to address people’s challenges online, which is not always easy. Whilst we cannot report on cases, we can definitely say that help was received by those that reached out asking for someone to talk to.

All in all, when one looks back at the work undertaken and the objectives it set out to fulfil, one certainly feels a sense of pride that we have an organization that can mobilize its resources to help out in these times of needs. There are various other players that operate in the background that make this whole jigsaw puzzle come together. The WF Office Bearers, the donors, the Federations, the Jamaats and last but not the least who probably deserve the most plaudits are the volunteers who continuously give of themselves. In this situation literally putting their lives on the line to serve a larger cause. With people like these in our midst, one can only thank Allah for giving us people who are and continue to be selfless. Alhamdulillah!

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