Upon taking office, United States President Joe Biden committed to an initial goal of administering 100 million vaccinations in the country. The day after his inauguration, Focus Humanitarian Assistance USA (FOCUS USA) received a call from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Voluntary Agency Coordination Office to help support the national vaccination effort.
In partnership with the Aga Khan Health Board and the Aga Khan Youth and Sports Board, FOCUS USA worked with FEMA and county public health offices to assist and expedite vaccinations in Texas, California, Illinois, Georgia, and Washington State. Vaccination sites ranging from motor speedway stadiums to mobile clinics required both medical and non-medical volunteer support.
“Along with being frontline heroes throughout the pandemic, over 125 of our healthcare professionals of the Ismaili Health Professional Association (IHPA) volunteered over 800 hours towards vaccinating, screening, and registering patients across the country with our FEMA and local counterparts,” said Dr. Ali Jiwani, who heads the Aga Khan Health Board’s IHPA.
To assist FEMA vaccination sites requiring non-medical, general administrative support, I-CERV volunteers stepped up in large numbers to manage crowd and traffic control, hand out and organize forms, and to help eager Americans secure vaccination appointments.
“This opportunity truly showcased our values and ethics in action to assist in the critical times of need in the national vaccination effort,” said Tasneem Devani, chair of AKYSB’s central region. “Our volunteers also went above and beyond their call of duty serving multiple days and shifts.”
FOCUS USA has been providing disaster risk management programs and emergency humanitarian relief to vulnerable communities in the U.S. and around the world for more than 25 years, including response and recovery efforts following Hurricanes Harvey and Laura as well the recent wildfires in California. Since its inception, it has led with a mission to save lives, reduce suffering and build community resilience.
“As an affiliate of the AKDN institutions, FOCUS USA relies heavily on the support of our national and local leadership and the service of our Ismaili professionals and volunteers to provide the necessary support on the ground in our initiatives,” said FOCUS USA Chairman Shenila Momin. “We are grateful to our volunteers who selflessly and tirelessly serve when called upon no matter the situation or circumstances.”