2016 consisted held a great number of challenges for the world over. Political strife and uncertainty seemed to rule the day most of the year. With everything that has happened, natural disasters and emergencies haven’t taken a backseat. IRUSA has been pushing harder than ever to make the right response to this year’s catastrophes. B.C. Dodge & R. Mordant took some time out to talk with IRUSA’s very own Regional Disaster Response Coordinator, Abdullah Shawky, who has been one of many going beyond the call of duty. IRUSA’s Disaster Response Team (DRT) found itself in the eye of storms, wildfires, floods, hurricanes and tornadoes this year. The work is still piling on. Abdullah Shawky discusses his roots in IRUSA’ DRT work, and the challenge of being present for emergencies that sometimes run parallel to one another.
Shawky stated, “Last few months have been an absolute whirlwind. This year has been the busiest year on record for IR.” The US faced approximately 49 natural disasters in 2017. With $10+ Billion in total damages, recovery presented a daunting task for countless agencies. IRUSA gathered it’s squadron of volunteers and deployed to where they could help the most. Shawky reminisced about his early days volunteering saying, “I remember when I started out with Islamic Relief. I started out as a volunteer. I remember when I went to my first disaster. It was a tornadoe just outside of Dallas. And I remember being on the ground. And I remember being hooked. I was just like man, this, I gotta do this. And you know, eventually pursued it enough and was offered a position.”
The task hasn’t been easy for IRUSA’s DRT team, but for change agents like Shawky answering the call is hardly a compromise. Shawky remarked, “We’re not happy for the disaster to happen. We’re happy for the opportunity to deploy and to help.”
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