Srinagar: While coming across visuals of destruction on internet and television news channels, Dr Farooq Ahmed packed his bags and left his job in a foreign country to return home and serve the flood-hit people. Since then, he has been organizing medical aid camps and distributing relief material, which he has purchased out of his salary, among the sufferers.
“I was desperate to hear a word from my family or friends when the floods hit Kashmir. But the communication system was defunct. I rang up my nephew in New Delhi, who assured me about the wellbeing of my family. Then, through him I arranged a few boats and life-saving jackets from Bangalore and dispatched it to Srinagar.
“I requested him to rush to Srinagar along with his friends and help people there. He started rescue operation in Bemina, Jawahar Nagar, Raj Bagh, Mehjoor Nagar and Nowgam areas. Along with rescue, he used to provide food and medicine,” Dr Farooq, a specialist in Emergency Medicine, told Kashmir Reader on the sidelines of a relief camp organised by him here Monday.
Farooq says he is apprehensive about the welfare of the flood-hit people as severe winters are round the corner. That explains why he has decided to stay here and do his bit for the sufferers.
“I know I will lose my three-month salary, which is a huge sum, but this is the best time to serve people. The aftermath of floods is crucial especially when winters are ahead. I have bought warm clothes, blankets, rice, and medicine apart from essential commodities for the flood victims out of my own pocket. I haven’t approached anyone, and I wouldn’t do so in the future, as I have got enough to serve the people,” Farooq, who works under the banner JKWO ‘Friends of Humanity’ a charitable organization he founded nearly 15 years ago before leaving for foreign shores.
Farooq, a resident of Natipora, Srinagar has been a well-known social worker since his days in SKIMS Medical College and has got international recognition for his work as well.
“The motto of my life is to serve people. I am doing social work since I was 14 only. My mother was a rheumatoid patient and she was suffering from pain. That way I was brought up in pain and agony. I understand what pain is,” said Farooq, who has also worked in Apollo Hospital, New Delhi.
“In 2000, when I was doing internship at SKIMS, I used to organize camps when there was no NGO culture in Kashmir. One day, I asked attendants of a patient suffering from brain tumor to donate blood. They fled from the spot; except for the patient’s brother, an aged man, nobody dared to donate blood. Next day, I organised a blood donation camp in SKIMS, Bemina so that patients don’t face any problem. I collected 50 units within no time and that helped patients.”
“In 2005, I was the first to reach out to people hit by snowstorm at Waltengu Nar in south Kashmir along with aid material. The same year, on the second day of my mother’s death, I went to earthquake affected areas in Uri, Tangdhar and Teetwal,” he added.
In the aftermath of recent floods, Farooq said the people were mainly complaining about respiratory problems and joint pains. “This is mainly due to cold. Before winters, people should be accommodated properly so that they don’t face health issues. Otherwise, it is big problem,” Farooq added.