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Virginia Muslims Visit Lonely Patients

VIRGINIA – Feeling the need of many lonely patients, a young Muslim has kicked off a new hospital visiting program in a Virginia mosque, to help people suffering health problems during their stay in hospital.

“I’m here in this country mostly without my family,” Eliya Hammad, a Palestinian student at George Washington University, told Voice of America on Sunday, August 21.

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Her volunteer program was kicked off in Jan 2016 at Darul Hijra mosque in Falls Church, Virginia.

The program encourages volunteers to visit people who are in the hospital with no friends or family members to pay them visit.

Getting deprived of such an important family or friends visit can worsen their health problems.

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Hammad says this experience happened to her.

“I have, like, a stone in my kidney and it’s a one-day surgery, but I felt the need,” she said.

“A lot of people, they don’t have family here.”

In the first year of the patient visitor program, more than 30 people volunteered.

“Visitors from the mosque have badges that look very much like mine — a picture, an indication of the fact that they’ve had a TB test, which is required annually, for the protection of the patient,” Reverend Graham Bardsley, the chaplain of Virginia Hospital Center, said.

Lyali Khalf, one of the volunteers, performs regular visits to patients.

“I started (with) the program in January. And I visit approximately between three or four patients a day. So maybe about 12 to 15 patients a week,” Khalf said.

Surraya Hussain, another volunteer, also joined the program to heal the hearts of the patients.

“Minimum is once a week. But sometimes I come by myself because I have the kids, so sometimes I sneak (in at) nighttime, when it’s not a visitation time. And I can talk to them,” she said.

Since the 9/11 attacks, US Muslims, estimated between 6-8 million, have complained of discrimination and stereotypes in the society because of their Islamic attires or identities.

A US survey has revealed that the majority of Americans know very little about Muslims and their faith.

A Gallup poll also found that the majority of US Muslims are patriot and loyal to their country and are optimistic about their future.