THE Islamic Medical Association (IMA) Western Cape has been involved in a community health and masjid project in Langa for a number of years. The following report has been provided by IMA WESTERN CAPE.
HISTORICALLY, Langa was one of the first townships established in the post-war apartheid era, and where African people were segregated. Over the years, through steady urban migration, its population swelled and soon spilled over to Gugulethu, Crossroads and Khayelitsha. During the pre-1994 era, the IMA found its way into these townships often under siege, to bring medical relief to what were ‘no-go’ areas. Through these circumstances it was unable to locate a permanent venue to render its services.
At the same time, small pockets of Muslims were developing, notably in Langa, under the leadership of Imam Dawood Lobi and Imam Abdullah Haron (RA). Under tremendously impoverished and trying circumstances, a wood and iron structure was erected in a backyard of a township house which served as a masjid for the Langa jamaah. This community survived on small handouts from the Cape Town community and it was during an outreach campaign in Ramadaan, 2008, when the IMA sent a speaker to Langa that the committee requested to establish regular contact with the IMA. It was then intimated that they were seeking an alternative site for a mosque and multipurpose centre.
Suffice it to say that they encountered closed doors to their requests for a suitable plot of ground at the city council. By the grace of the Almighty, a building previously occupied by a general practitioner who had passed away, became available for sale. The committee and the IMA jointly put up the price of R600 000. A trust was formed with IMA representation to administer this waqf property.
After extensive cleaning up and modest renovations, we commenced operations during the month of Ramadaan 2010, with an enthusiastic response from the community. At the same time, the soup kitchen donated by the IMA in collaboration with the community in the name of the Zimasile Islamic Society, the custodians of the mosque. (‘Zimasile’ was the previous name of the aforesaid Imam Lobi, meaning ‘honourable’.)
We envisaged to offer a dynamic programme largely aimed at promotive and preventative health. The aim was to have designated clinics on specific days, for example, mother and child, women’s health, TB and HIV screening, mental health and substance abuse, hypertension and glucose screening, breastfeeding advice.
These interventions, which the present health system has been unable to address adequately and hopefully will solve with the introduction of national health, with which we hope to have a collaborative relationship. It was previously admitted by the premier of the Western Cape that it was impossible to accomplish certain obligations to its constituency without the assistance of NGOs. Muslim NGOs were particularly singled out.
The various programmes were led by our colleagues who graciously volunteered some of their time at the clinic every Saturday morning, from 09:00 to 12:30. GPs and other specialists, nurses, medical students, pharmacists, our caretaker and receptionist all formed part of the team. GPs supervised and trained students during the patient assessments (once consent was received from the patient). The receptionist also acted as a translator as and when required.
We hope to employ a full-time professional nurse to run the clinic daily once there is adequate funding for us to do so. We thank our pharmacy group for their sterling support of revamping and regularly stocking our dispensary. We also thank all those who contributed towards erecting the palisade fencing to secure the premises, Alhamdulillah.
Since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown, the weekly services have had to be suspended. We hope to restart this year, Insha Allah. If you are able or wish to contribute in any way or volunteer for any part of this programme, please contact our office (see contact details below).
Standard Bank; Account name: IMASA WCape; account type: cheque; account no: 072912685; branch code: 026209; reference: Langa
Islamic Medical Association Western Cape, 9 Quick Road, Lansdowne, 7764. Tel: 021 762 1414 or Email: email@example.com