Let’s help because charity keeps the world ticking - GulfToday

Let’s help because charity keeps the world ticking

Dr Omar Atiq

Dr Omar Atiq

“Give what you have. To someone, it may be better than you dare to think,” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said.

Yes, we often overlook the impact that our gentle acts of kindness can have on people.

The groundswell of generosity should gush out from the heart. Unfortunately, a few people are naturally inclined to charity. However, there are some sparkling models. A Pakistani-American doctor decided to waive costs of treatment for his patients in what can only be described as a sparkling example of charity in these coronavirus times. The bills were worth a gargantuan $650,000.

The gesture has given fresh hope and joy to the families of the patients, who simply were crumbling under the weight of the bills during the harsh onslaught of the pandemic.

He hoped he would make their lives “a little bit easier,” erasing their more than half a million dollars in medical debt, according to media reports.

Dr Omar Atiq, who founded a cancer clinic in 1991 in Pine Bluff in the US state of Arkansas, sent out a notice to his patients just days before Dec.25 saying “the clinic has decided to forego all balances owed to the clinic by its patients.”

Dr Atiq, an oncologist who received his medical degree from Khyber Medical College, Peshawar, had closed the clinic in February after nearly 30 years of providing cancer treatments, including chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

 “Over time I realised that there are people who just are unable to pay,” Dr Atiq said, adding that he and his wife, Mehreen, thought about it and looked at forgiving all the debt. “We saw that we could do it and then just went ahead and did it,” he added.

“You add to it the absolute devastation that the (coronavirus) pandemic has wrought, and you think thank God that we’re fairly comfortable and this was something we could at least do to help the community,” Dr Atiq said.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan also strongly believes in charity, in helping the needy and the distressed. He believes in giving free cancer treatment to the poor at the hospital he set up in memory of his mother, whom he lost to the killer disease. Many young innocent lives are being saved at Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre in Pakistan. Recently, a Dh4.4 million grant was allocated by Sharjah-run ‘Ameera Fund’ to Imran Khan’s cancer hospital in Peshawar.

The grant was announced following the directives of Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, Chairperson of The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), Founder and Royal Patron of the Friends Of Cancer Patients (FOCP).

But this is not just happening in Pakistan.

In India, too, some industrialists are known for their charity. Wipro founder-chairman Azim Premji is a great example, with a donation of Rs 7,904 crore during the coronavirus lockdown.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently pledged an additional $250 million to support the development of low-cost and easier to deliver treatments and vaccines against COVID-19.

Even Emiratis are not far behind. Early last year, Emirati businessman Abdul Rahim Al Zarooni, Chairman of the Board of Al Zarooni Group, announced the donation of Dhs10 million to ensure all healthcare centres.

Also last year, another prominent Emirati businessman, Khalaf Al Habtoor, donated 50 state-of-the-art ambulance vehicles and a medically-equipped building to be used for quarantine purposes. As part of the humanitarian gesture, Al Habtoor also announced he will establish an integrated virology laboratory for medical research to support global efforts in the fight against the coronavirus.

In May, another UAE businessman, Ahmed Bin Sulayem, made a contribution of Dhs1 million to the Community Solidarity Fund Against COVID-19 launched by the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department in Dubai.

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