There is one person key to making all of IMR’s missions happen – Zahid Mahmood, Operations Director for IMANA Medical Relief (IMR). Based out of IMANA’s Washington, D.C. office, Mahmood is instrumental in the planning and execution of all IMR missions. We are closing out volunteer month with a Q&A to learn more about the man behind IMR.

Q: Did you always work in medical relief?

No, this is the first time indeed. My only brush with medicine was either as a patient, or when I was in the navy as the executive officer of a submarine. Owing to the small crew size, submarines don’t carry any medical staff; the executive officer is also the ship’s official doctor. That was my introduction to medicine. I got involved with medical relief several years later when I joined IMANA in 2013.

Q: How many missions and volunteers do you coordinate per year? What is involved in executing a mission and making it successful?

We have been averaging eight to ten missions per year, but this increased exponentially in 2018 with the addition of our SaveRohingya medical mission; we had a total of 44 teams travel to different countries last year. Team size can vary from 6 to 24 depending upon the needs of the specific mission. A lot is involved to execute any medical mission, like registering volunteers and selecting a team, briefing and preparing them for the trip, coordinating logistics and official approvals with our partners in host countries, procurement and shipment of medicines, and more. But most of all, it is the dedication and selfless spirit of service of our volunteers which makes a mission successful.

Q: How do you feel knowing that thousands of people per year are helped because of your work behind the scenes?

Alhamdulillah, it is a satisfying feeling that we are accomplishing something together, toward better health and life of humanity at large. By no means am I the one who makes it happen, it’s a team effort and I am just one small cog in a large wheel.

Q: Do you have hobbies and interests in your personal time?

Yes, I do – photography, books & magazines, travel/sightseeing.

Q: What would you say to someone who is considering volunteering?

Don’t think twice — just start off, you won’t ever regret it.

To volunteer for a future IMANA Medical Relief mission, click here