Socialisation and community networking is a very common practice in Qatar where expatriates from different countries live and work.
There are numerous community organisations that continue to work for welfare and support of their compatriots.
Since the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, the community welfare groups have become more active and efficient as the disease was accompanied by job losses, salary cuts and business closures.
P N Baburajan, the ICBF president and a long-time resident of Qatar, has said with the help of contributors and support of Indian embassy, food was distributed among thousands
Different groups started new programmes to support the affected people by giving cash support, medical aid, food supplies or repatriation to home countries.
Indian Community Benevolent Forum (ICBF) is one such community organisation working under the patronage of the Indian embassy in Qatar.
The group remains on the forefront in helping the Indian expatriates during the pandemic peak and lockdown in Qatar.
recently spoke to P N Baburajan, ICBF president.
He is a long-time resident of Qatar and has vast experience of carrying out community and social work.
Baburajan is upbeat about the response of the members and leaders of the community during the pandemic challenge.“The pandemic has made people kinder and gentler in general. The disease affected everyone in one way or another and people felt connected with each other. With the help of the community contributors and support of the Indian embassy we were able to distribute food items among thousands of people.
“As we all know, the Indian community in Qatar has a large number of middle class and lower middle class people, who really got affected due to the pandemic and related social and financial issues. ICBF extended various aid to the needy community members such as medical assistance, legal advice, financial support and food supply.
It was initially decided to use existing funds of the forum but many community people and organisations came forward with support and we did not have to use the existing funds.”
Baburajan, who came to Qatar in 1986, further highlighted some of the initiatives that his team has taken for the welfare of the community.“We introduced ICBF members' ID and life membership cards. We also successfully celebrated ICBF Day by honouring the people who have made extraordinary contributions towards serving the community.
Further, we have initiated ‘ICBF Legal Clinic’ in association with M/s Kocheri and Partners, one of the leading international law firms operating in Qatar, to extend legal support and guidance to the needy Indian community members. We also organised regular medical camps in association with various government and private organisations and extended free medical checkups and for 90 days continued medication to the poor needy workers. The forum also started ‘ICBF Counselling House.’ A team of professionals from medical and educational fields are ready for the community members to help and sort out their issues.”
The ICBF president also spoke highly about the life insurance policy initiated by the forum.“The policy for a sum of QR100,000 with a very small premium amount was started for the community. The policy is very beneficial for the poor and low-income workers whose life can turn upside down with an unexpected life tragedy.”
Baburajan later spoke about the future plans. He said: “A community initiative for differently-abled children is one of the prime aims for the future. If we are not able to provide advanced education or training, we will at least provide primary education to these children. We plan to have a permanent legal support desk in the ICBF office. There will also be a permanent medical repatriation desk in the office. The future plans also include a Norka help desk. We also plan to amend rules of the ICBF to increase the management committee members for remote locations such as Mesaieed, Al Khor, Dukhan and Industrial Area.”
He added: “Discount card for ICBF members from private medical centres have already been discussed with different centres. As much as 20 to 30% discount has been confirmed and we are waiting for an MoU to be signed.”