£900,000 raised in one year to help children and refugees
Naveed Khan who is in his fourth year of studies at the GKT School of Medical Education has been nominated for the Dr Abbas Khan Medal for his outstanding contribution to humanitarian work.
The Dr Abbas Khan Medal was established in 2015 to provide a lasting tribute to the extraordinary humanitarian contribution of alumnus Dr Abbas Khan. Dr Khan graduated in medicine from King’s in 2006 and went on to become an orthopaedic surgeon. He tragically passed away in 2013 after he was detained for undertaking humanitarian work in Syria.
Naveed began volunteering in hospitals, an orphanage and with disabled children in Central America and South Asia.
Of his time he says: It was an eye opening experience to see how the lack of skilled staff, and scarcity of basic resources made treatment so difficult. The awful stigma that I saw associated with disabled children is something that has stayed with me even after all of these years. Comparatively, health and social care in the UK was almost paradisal.
Returning to the UK he started volunteering for one of the world’s largest NGOs and began campaigning and fundraising to support disaster relief funds.
After my time abroad I felt so much more grateful coming home for the blessing and opportunities in my life that others did not have. I knew that I wanted to do something about this. The month of Ramadhan came around, and as a Muslim I am not only encouraged to fast, but to increase in all good deeds that I can. When I saw friends on Facebook volunteering with a charity for an ongoing humanitarian disaster in the Horn of Africa, some friends and I seized this opportunity to act.
Naveed galvanised a team and lead the local community to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds that helped people in the Horn of Africa, provide medical aid in Syria and more.
Since 2013 he has been involved in Charity Week, one of the largest volunteer led international movements, mobilising students to make a difference for orphans and needy children. In 2016 he became the UK National Director where he has managed a team of 120 core volunteers, and raised over £900,000.
The money will be used to fund a mass orphan development and educational programme to alleviate poverty in Bangladesh; equip Syrian hospitals with trained staff and equipment; provide educational and training programmes to children in Gaza; and provide healthcare, education and social support to refugees settling in Europe.
Every year we work through countless problems but when we see the impact at the end, it is more than worth it. My favourite part is helping to choose the projects that we fund. Our projects are all researched by experts in the field to ensure that they provide communities with long lasting and sustainable solutions. Think hospitals, not bandages. Just like when we funded medical boats for Myanmar refugees, and equipped Gazan hospitals with resources for neonatal care. Educating our tens of thousands of volunteers across the world about these issues, and how when they come together they can help improve things is part of our sustainable vision.
He is also active closer to home, both in the UK and at King’s, where he was the co-lead for King’s Islamic Society’s ARK project. Beginning by providing rucksacks filled with essential items to the homeless, they have grown into a huge team with different sub-teams that focus on different avenues of giving back into the local community through medical health clinics with homeless shelters, presents to hospitalised children, workshops with disadvantaged children, sweet packs to their fellow students at exam times, and more.
I absolutely love ARK. The project has a simple vision; to help others do good. It is continually growing and has especially done so in the last year with the new team. Time and time again, it reminds me of the inherent selflessness within us all; every single initiative is oversubscribed with volunteers keen to get involved with Acts of Random Kindness. Our community here at King’s is great.
In September 2016, Naveed’s humanitarian work was recognised as he was listed as one of the Evening Standards’ most influential people in London. At the time, he was humbled by the recognition: I’m so honoured by the win, but why me? he chuckled. It’s a great honour to be recognised and if the work I’m doing can inspire someone else to get involved then that’s all that matters.
Looking back on the nomination now he laughs: I still don't think I deserved it! It was a slightly surreal experience as people got in touch from around the world. Some of the messages I received told me that the (little) work I had done had inspired them. We all need reminders and in one of my most difficult academic years, it reminded me of how important a balance, and this aspect of my life still is.
Speaking of his nomination for the Dr Abbas Khan Medal, Naveed is honoured: Friends of mine had known Dr Abbas Khan and so I had followed his story from very early on. To be frank, there are very few of us who could ever be as brave as he was, or as selfless, to have done what he did to help those in dire need. It is an extraordinary honour to be nominated for an award in his name.
Naveed is one of four nominees for the 2016 Dr Abbas Khan Medal. The winner will be named at the Award Ceremony on 6 February 2017. MBBS staff, students and alumni are invited for what promises to be an inspiring night. More information and to RSVP visit the Dr Abbas Khan Medal page.