IMANA VOLUNTEER STORIES
Double Trouble? No, Double the Giving Back: Interview with the Haq Twins
Answers provided by Sobia Haq
March 29th, 2019
Detroit twins Sadia and Sobia Haq are ambitious and talented, fun, and make a big impact on communities both at home and abroad. We took some time getting to know them before they head out on their SaveHaiti mission in April.
Q: Why are the two of you going on this mission? Is there any particular tie to Haiti?
A: We went on our first medical relief trip with IMANA to Haiti and it was life-changing. Getting the chance to go on this mission to Haiti is a very special and important experience for us. Haiti was where our dream for relief work internationally and domestically became a reality; it’s where the spark started and why the flame continues to burn. Haiti humbled us in a way that changed us forever. The locals were such beautiful, hospitable, and happy people, despite the conditions they were living in and the health disparities they were facing. In this mission, we got to give free medical care to all age groups, while also getting the chance to connect with them on a deeper human level despite the language barrier. Our host family made the experience that much more special by treating us like their own family: caring for us, feeding us, and allowing us to experience a spiritual journey with them through lectures and reflections.
Q: Have you done medical relief work before?
A: Haiti with IMANA was our first medical relief trip. Since then, we made a promise to ourselves that we would try to join one relief trip every year where the need was most. Sadia and I go on every relief trip together when we’re able to. We’ve gone on a few trips with different organizations including SAMS, SCM and Swiss Cross to work with the Syrian refugees in Greece.
Q: How often do you team up as sisters to volunteer or take on special projects?
A: We’re best friends in life and the perfect team for any and all adventures. Since our trip to Haiti we’ve gone on extensive relief trips with SCM and SAMS to Greece to work with the Syrian refugees; we went together in April 2016 for two weeks. Shortly after, Sadia started her PA program in Connecticut, and I went back to work at my pediatric nurse job in Michigan.
After going back to work, something really changed in me due to my experience in Greece. I was starting my own graduate nursing program in September and my heart was telling me to go back to Greece before that started. So I took a leap of faith and quit my job earlier then I was planning to; I joined SAMS and Swiss Cross in Greece for two months to provide medical and humanitarian aid. The trip was truly humbling and I was able to do a lot of good work during the time I spent there. While I worked abroad, Sadia continued to work locally: with local homeless shelters to provide clothes, meals and groceries to those in need, organized fundraisers to raise money for a local organization known as Musical Intervention, which provided a voice through music and spoken word for those in need, and was the leader of her program’s foot clinic, providing medical foot care and assessments, socks, shoes and resources for at-risk homeless populations at a local men’s shelter in New Haven, Connecticut.
We are planning to take another relief trip this summer to Uganda with a friend who we met during our first Haiti relief trip with IMANA. Additionally, we hope to join IMANA in Bangladesh and Palestine this year if time and work permit.
Q: Do you have local community affiliations?
A: Shortly after our relief trip to Haiti, Sadia and I felt we had to continue to do relief work no matter what. Since going abroad wasn’t something we could do every day, we decided to start at home with the local community. It started off small with just the two of us and our siblings making care packages for the homeless and distributing them throughout the city of Detroit. The experience made such an impact that we decided to make it a regular duty of ours.
Dr. Momin treats a Rohingya woman.
We started posting on social media to get people to join the cause, and the response was heartwarming. We found so many like-minded individuals ready to help — we decided to team up and started our own nonprofit organization named “Detroit Is My Home.” Our organization has been in operation since 2015 and we have distributed over 600 care packages, served hundreds of hot meals at local shelters, painted murals on shelter walls/community spaces, and cleaned up and did landscaping at local shelters to create beautiful community spaces for individuals who were stuck waiting outside of the shelters for food. We’ve learned a lot about leadership, teamwork, communication, and nonprofit work in general through all of our experiences. Every experience has been one that has prepared us to move forward and think bigger in regards to our passion to help those in need. And we can’t wait to gain more experience and increase our outreach in the near future.
Q: Any notable interests/hobbies?
A: We both love to travel (we’ve visited 20 countries and counting), and love sports (basketball, soccer, volleyball), archery, hiking (no matter where we visit, we always find challenging hikes to go on; Sobia hiked to the top of Mount Olympus when she was in Greece), and we’re amazing at ping-pong (we’re an unbeatable team in our local community). We love art – drawing and painting. Sobia submits artwork that ties into issues around the world to spoken word events; we both created a gallery displaying the photography of a refugee named Abdulazzez (now a dear friend to us) at different events in Michigan and in Toronto to spread awareness about the crisis. We both paint abstract pieces and calligraphy and sell them to raise money to donate to different NGOs. But all in all, when we’re not working at our jobs or going on relief trips, we’re either spending time with family, working on our nonprofit or volunteering.