Shifa Community Clinic Holds 15th Annual Fundraiser Banquet
By Ras H. Siddiqui
The Shifa Community Clinic in Sacramento, California held its 15t Annual Fundraiser Banquet at the UC Davis MIND (Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders) Institute on Saturday, November 18, 2017.
Attended by many area doctors and local business supporters, this event was the clinic’s annual effort to raise funds for its operations at its 419 V Street, Sacramento location. A free clinic was started in 1994 by two area doctors to serve the underprivileged or working people without health insurance at the V Street Mosque apartment compound area which later expanded with community support. The clinic is open every Sunday from 9:00 AM to 12:00 noon. The Arabic word Shifa means healing or curing and it is in that spirit that this clinic has operated and lived up to its name over many years.
According to their Facebook page, “In the year 2000, the current Medical Director, Shagufta Yasmeen, MD, and two medical students, Nasser Abdo and Mahmoud Traina from the University of California, Davis, and the community members (Bashir Choudary, and DrNajmeMinhaj) launched a new clinic by the name of “Shifa Community Clinic”. The clinic was officially affiliated with UC Davis School of Medicine on June 15, 2005. A three-party agreement between Shifa Community Clinic, UC Davis School of Medicine, and the Muslim Mosque Association was finalized.”
This fundraising event was well attended and professionally executed by emcees Prio Hossain and Abhay Sandhu. DrShagufta Yasmeen in her welcome speech expressed her happiness at seeing many members of the community in the gathering along with her friends and colleagues. She also thanked the students for helping her every Sunday (when the Clinic is open) along with all the Shifa Board Members, especially NajmeMinhaj and Bashir Choudary, for their support. Dr Yasmeen gave a detailed slide presentation on the clinic operations and its financial needs. She emphasized the difference that volunteers make and how they themselves get inspired to pursue medicine as a part of their future goals in the community (Shifa is a “win-win” operation where along with physicians, student volunteers work in a real clinic and learn the ropes). Following DrShagufta, John Tan who provides legal assistance at the clinic, spoke in detail about the extra services provided at Shifa. He was followed by a “Spoken Word” performance by AlirameenAkram, a Public Health student at UCD. Dinner and entertainment followed with Jessica Yanez and Maria Sanchez performing a traditional Mexican Folklorico dance and NawangChokyi presenting Bollywood dances.
Not one but both the keynote speakers this evening were inspiring to say the least. Dr Jorge Garcia M. D andDr Jann Murray-Garcia (husband and wife) shared much more than medicine with the audience; they shared their wisdom, which is an important element in the profession. Dr Jorge said that it was an honor for him to address this wonderful event. He asked, “Where would our community be without Shifa Clinic?” He said that Shifa provided light, warmth, comfort and hope to Sacramento. He added that he did not need to tell everybody that Shifa is making a real (positive) difference in the community and it was inspiring to him. He shared with us his experiences while being a struggling medical student in the late-1980’s unsure of his direction and contemplating to quit medical school. But on one occasion his group was asked by a nurse if anyone spoke Spanish. He did and helped to translate for one young Spanish-speaking woman. He could not forget how happy and relieved she was to meet a Garcia (who spoke Spanish) and in communicating with him. She had never seen a medical student like him before! He said that interaction inspired him to continue in medicine and make a difference. Because “here was a healthcare provider who spoke her language and understood her culture,” he said (That is exactly the void that Shifa has filled for many). Jorge shared more inspiring experiences but this one resonated most with this writer.
Next Dr Jann Murray-Garcia presented one of the most inspiring medical-political speeches that many of us have ever heard. She said that it was an honor for her to be addressing us for a few minutes and wanted to give us hope in what has been a very difficult year for those of us who believe in the principles of this nation. She reflected on the vison of Dr Martin Luther King Jr. and said that we must never lose this hope. “I want us to remember that this is OUR country. It is still our country,” she said. And although it might take us a little bit longer to take us where we need to be, it is still our country. She said that she is reading a book called “Thomas Jefferson’s Koran-Islam and the Founders” and a that a lot of people don’t know that our founding fathers used the example of Muslims in America to defend the rights to religious freedom. “This is your country. This is our country-still,” said Jann. Space constraints limit us here from including more of what she said at this event and there was certainly much more. “I am asking you now at this time to not lose hope. Put your head down and do what you know is right,” she said.
Along with the fundraising, an awards ceremony was held honoring Dr Garcia, DrsSadiah and Zahid Iqbal and Dr Mohammad Kabbesh. Honorable recognition of support mementos were presented to Dr Habib Mohamed Khan and to Javed Siddiqui (all the Siddiqui family was honored). Both Dr Habib and Javed spoke eloquently on how to take the Shifa Community Clinic to the next level. The fundraising effort was helped along by DrNajmeMinhaj and Kais Menoufy and it turned out to be a very productive evening for all concerned.