As the holy month of Ramadan comes to a close on Monday, an annual outreach program aimed at educating Chicago-area Muslims about the importance of health care is finishing up as well.
"Ramadan is not just about prayer. It's about community service," said Abrar Quader, who attended services at different mosques each night with his father, Azher Quader, executive director of the Compassionate Care Network to help inform people about their coverage options under the Affordable Care Act.
"We believe that community service and serving the other is one of the highest forms of worship," said Abrar Quader, director of government and community partnerships for the local nonprofit.
The program, called "30 Mosques in 30 Days," was the combined effort of the Compassionate Care Network, Get Covered America and Heartland Health Center. Over the last four weeks, volunteers spoke to thousands of Muslims, encouraging them to enroll if they have not already and answering questions about how coverage works.
More than 400,000 Chicago-area Muslims observe Ramadan, the holy month in which many Muslims abstain from food, drink and sex in daylight hours, according to the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago.
On Friday afternoons, in-person counselors from the Heartland center saw between 15 and 30 people at the Muslim Community Center in Albany Park, said Dalia Galvan Morales, an in-person counselor at Heartland.
"This is a particularly new program and a lot of people are confused as to what programs they are still eligible for," said Galvan Morales, adding that while open enrollment is closed for this year, there are some who can still sign up for coverage if they recently lost their job or a family member or meet other circumstances.
"For a lot of the people, it's the first time that they have insurance. Most of them are immigrants," she said. "They need to know how to get hold of a doctor, they need help to send in a payment. Every little thing that we think sometimes people know we are finding that they need help with."
Counselors from Heartland will continue to be available at the center at 4380 N. Elston Ave. between noon and 3 p.m. on Fridays, Galvan Morales said. - Chicago Tribune