The worst of crises requires the best out of us. Luckily, citizens throughout Middle Eastern nations are taking it upon themselves to take care of their communities, especially the more vulnerable, despite being faced with fear and uncertainty themselves.
— شقایقم (@shghy_gh) March 14, 2020
The nation at the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis in the Middle East has its people stepping up, through cooperation, while their government faces mounting difficulty to contain the virus.
Through social media, we see volunteers who have transformed mosques into makeshift factories, to sew surgical masks and prepare care packages for needy families. Their efforts are sourced out-of-pocket to provide greatly-needed food and medical protections.
A fine example of good samaritans are two Iraqi brothers, Haitham and Mumin, who have been providing free meals out of their restaurant in Mosul, for the overworked and underprotected medical staff at the nearby al-Batool hospital.
نحن الأخوين هيثم ومؤمن عامر أصحاب مطعم جراند هاوس في #الموصل، قمنا بتجهيز الكادر الطبي والصحي لمستشفى البتول في المدينة بوجبات طعام مجانية، لدعمهم أثناء وقت بقائهم ليلاً في المستشفى لمراقبة الحالات المرضية وحالات الاشتباه بالكورونا.
كلنا اليوم مسؤولون عن حماية مدينتنا من كورونا. pic.twitter.com/5ZbLLRDRNb
— IrfaaSawtak ارفع صوتك (@IrfaaSawtak) March 17, 2020
“We are the Aamer brothers, Haitham and Mumin, owners of the Grand House restaurant in Mosul. We have started supplying free meals to al-Batool hospital medical and health staff, to support them during their overnight shifts at the hospital as they monitor illnesses and suspected cases of coronavirus. We are all responsible for protecting our city from coronavirus.”
Videos circulating on twitter indicate other, community-based efforts of providing food to Iraqi families in need, many of whom have lost their jobs to the pandemic.
Iraqis volunteer to provide rationed food baskets to poorer families during the fight against #CoronavirusOutbreak
— 🇮🇶Iraq & Middle East Updates (@IraqLiveUpdate) March 18, 2020
In Morocco, much mystery remains on how hard the epidemic is truly hitting its people and their livelihoods. The North African nation announced a state of health emergency last Friday, officially declaring 170 cases but has only conducted around 800 tests in total.
In Mohammedia, a port city on the west coast of Morocco, a local corner store is responding to the growing panic by hanging up a sign, inviting its customers to take their daily need of bread for free.
حي النسيم مدينة المحمدية. pic.twitter.com/Pzx3l9778c
— MagISCO🎩🇲🇦🇵🇰🇬🇧 (@zanouubbbaaa) March 20, 2020
“My dear brothers. Amid the tough times that we are going through, if you don’t have money, please don’t be shy and leave your family without bread. So take your daily need of bread for free. My livelihood and your livelihood are on God,” translates their note.
The Palestinian territories are bracing for a possibly devastating outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, predicted to hit them harder than the rest, due to their extreme population density and overwhelming lack of resources.
However, in a strong display of unity, during a sermon last week, the imams floor was given to a local doctor, to prioritize the dissemination of information among the community in regards to the threatening virus.
At a mosque in Palestine, the imam told a doctor to give the Friday sermon so he could spread knowledge about Coronavirus to the public
"The pulpit is not limited to men of religion, it is for people who have knowledge" pic.twitter.com/KiU2hS2Itn
— RJ Vijdan (@mirchivijdan) March 16, 2020
Countries across MENA, like much of the world, have already issued restrictions on travel, businesses and public gatherings, as they fight to curb the spread of the ever growing virus, but what will really help hold communities together is their solidarity.