"My wish to help people supersedes my own safety"


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Devoted volunteer Mohammed Jamaal Moosa is playing a crucial part in supporting his local community during COVID-19, from helping with Muslim funerals to delivering NHS care packages.

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The final-year Mechanical Engineering student at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has long volunteered with the Khidmah Organisation, which joined forces with a number of local charities to form the Leicester Community Response to the global pandemic.

Identified early on as one of the community’s greatest needs was supporting with the burial of Muslim people who have died from coronavirus.

Muslim funerals are preceded by two rituals called Ghusl and Kafan, as well as prayers. In the Ghusl, close family members of the same sex as the person who has died wash the body with warm water. The Kafan involves shrouding the body in a number of simple sheets.

“The virus means that the elders who usually lead these rituals can no longer do so because they are at higher risk from it. Also, the family members who lived with the deceased have to self-isolate, so they can’t attend any part of the funeral,” said the 22-year-old from Leicester.

“As a young person with no underlying health conditions I feel like it’s my duty to help these families at one of the lowest points in their life. I’m happy to be a comfort to them and it makes me grateful for everything I have.

“The sense of community around Leicester is so wonderful. It’s times like these that show how people come together to really help one another.”

Jamaal is now one of the more experienced volunteers supporting with Muslim funerals. He has been involved in every step of the process, from picking up the body from the mortuary and driving it to the mosque to carrying out the rituals and the burial.

He said: “My wish to help people supersedes my own safety. I always put others before me, it’s just who I am. But, we’ve had training on how to do it safely and we are in full PPE the whole time.”

Through his volunteering with Leicester Community Response, Jamaal has also helped to pack and deliver care packages for local NHS nurses, as well as to prepare and deliver hundreds of food parcels to elderly and vulnerable people living in deprived areas of the city.

“Every challenge has a positive side, you just have to look for it. For me, one of the positives of coronavirus is that I have a lot more free time that I can dedicate to helping others,” he said.

Jamaal’s charitable efforts earned him the 2019 Community Initiative award at the British Muslim Awards with Riders of Shaam, a charity which hosts annual cycle rides to different parts of Europe, raising more than £500,000 since it was first established in 2012 by a group of DMU students.

Alongside his volunteering and charity work, Jammal was averaging a First in his degree before lockdown measures were put in place.

He said: “Studying from home has been tough, but our tutors have been very supportive - moving teaching online, providing extra one-to-one tutorials and replacing exams with coursework.”

One of Jamaal’s degree highlights has been a year-long work placement at Network Rail. Working within route asset management, he was part of the team responsible for looking after 44,000 structures such as bridges and tunnels on the London North Western route.

“I highly recommend doing a year in industry. Not only does it give you the chance to apply what you’ve learned on your course to a real-life scenario, it also makes you cherish your final year of university,” he said.

Posted on Friday 26th June 2020

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