A total of 500 young Saudi women and girls from various parts of the Kingdom have joined the Saudi Red Crescent Society as volunteers to provide paramedic, rescue and emergency services to pilgrims inside the Grand Mosque during the holy month of Ramadan.
Long before the start of Ramadan, the Red Crescent advertised in the local newspapers asking for women volunteers to work as paramedics and rescuers in the Grand Mosque during the fasting month.
The society was specifically looking for doctors, pharmacists, nurses and technicians to join its teams at the Grand Mosque.
Spokeswoman of the Red Crescent, Mashaiel Al-Shamrani, said women volunteers were deployed in 15 locations inside the Grand Mosque. “Each location will have a medical doctor, a pharmacist and a nurse,” she said.
She said women volunteers will obtain practical experience from their work with the Red Crescent.
“They will be able to deal with sick people and hence add practical experience to their theoretical studies,” she said.
Al-Shamrani said each volunteer should have experience in first aid and attended a training course in basic life support. “The volunteer should also obtain the approval of her male guardian,” she added.
Raghdah Al-Mihmadi, a student of pharmacology at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, said she considers her volunteer work with the Red Crescent as a charity deed. “I will provide paramedical services to the emergency cases and will thus gain reward from Allah,” she said.
Hadeel Khoj, a medicine student at KAU, said most of the diseases the pilgrims complain about are arthritis, headaches, dizziness, fever, high blood pressure, diabetes and others. She said they will try to treat patients inside the Grand Mosque but if their conditions do not improve they will be transported to the nearest hospital in Makkah.
Rahma Bukhari, a medicine student at Al-Batarjee Medical College, said she volunteered for humanitarian and spiritual reasons to serve the guests of God.
“The little medicine we give will make thousands of Umrah pilgrims happy during the fasting month,” she added.
Suhaila Binaimin, a nursing student, said she comes every day from Jeddah to Makkah to serve the guests of God.
“I also use the opportunity to pray at the Grand Mosque,” she said.
She said these pilgrims have crossed long distances to arrive in the Kingdom so it is her duty to serve them. She added that many of them would not have the money to get treatment in private hospitals.
“Therefore, we provide them with medication right inside the Grand Mosque,” she added.
Hala Salma, a medicine student at Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah, said they have a communication problem with some of the pilgrims who do not speak Arabic or English.
“We often try to use sign language to understand their problems,” she said.
This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on July 9, 2014.