FROM a young age, Rib’e Mohd Parid had an inclination for helping people — especially those who are ill and less fortunate.
For the chap who is the ninth out of 10 siblings, this probably stemmed from observing his mother, who is a medical doctor, at work and having three of his older siblings also embracing the profession — dispensing healthcare in a caring and emphatic manner.
Now 22 years old, the lad who hails from Hulu Langat, Selangor is continuing his passion by joining humanitarian missions organised by the student council of Cyberjaya University College of Medical Sciences (CUCMS) — where he is now a third-year Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) student.
“Volunteerism and relief aid is a big part of what students learn at CUCMS. The CUCMS student council has one bureau for projects — under which there is a big annual charity programme called Twenties for Smileys (TFS). It is called that because most of us are in our twenties and our aim is to bring smiles to people. TFS conducts an annual humanitarian mission usually in a Southeast Asian country — Cambodia in 2013, Vietnam in 2014, Indonesia in 2015 and Laos last year — where we provided medical screening, health awareness talks and other types of community support,” said Rib’e.
While he was only a participant for the first three missions, he was selected to be the project director for the Laos International Family Endeavour’s (LIFE) 2016 humanitarian mission in July last year.
During the week-long LIFE 2016, 40 CUMCMS students from the medical, psychology, pharmacy and physiology faculties provided medical check-up to more than 100 villagers through a static station and home visits in Ban Phonesavathai village near the Laos capital, Vientiane.
Other than that, donation items consisting of a family kit, hygiene kit, and educational tools kit were also given out. The team launched two educational support programmes with a duration of 6 months each, which are LIFE English Tuition for poor students and LIFE Livelihood Skills Workshop for housewives.
“While the main programme was just a week long, the actual preparation took some nine months. It started with research and discussion on target group location with our advisor CUCMS Centre for Disaster and Relief Medicine director Associate Professor Dr Mohamed Ikram Mohd Salleh, who is a former MERCY Malaysia vice-president. Then we had to liaise with the Embassy of Malaysia in Vientiane to find out how best to carry out a programme based on the needs of the target community,” said Rib’e.
From a World Bank report, the LIFE 2016 group found out that 70 to 80 per cent of the citizens of Laos were living close to or below the poverty level.
“CUCMS students have often championed the welfare of the poor in Malaysia, and with LIFE 2016 we took this a step further. The trip was focused on providing health services, medical care, education and welfare support. Much in line with our university’s vision of Nurturing Passion to Care,” Rib’e shared.
To kick off the project, Rib’e focused the group’s efforts on fundraising.
“For fund collection, we had fundraising, donation and sponsorship drives. The main method for fundraising was a marathon where the aim was to create awareness about the project. For sponsorship we approached corporate bodies and the zakat authority. Donation was mainly derived from the public and through mosques. We managed to collect RM116,000 over nine months which covered all our expenditures,” he said.
Of the key highlights of LIFE 2016 was the setting up of a mini library for children at the village of Ban Phonesavathai.
“In the village school, one classroom only had one textbook to be shared among 30 students. We think education is something they needed badly and the library would be a place for the kids to at least have the opportunity to access books and read. This, together, with the LIFE Livelihood Skills Workshop for housewives would give them a chance at kickstarting towards a better future.”
Rib’e believes LIFE 2016 served as a platform to increase awareness among its participants on humanitarian support as well as heighten their management and communication skills.
“And as medical students, we chanced upon cases that is rarely seen here in Malaysia. One was filariasis which is an infectious tropical disease caused by thread-like parasitic round worms which blocks the lymphatic system and causes swelling of limbs to the point that — in the case of kids, they can’t move and go to school. I have never seen it before. The only treatment is to go to the hospital and have doctors remove the worms. Also there is widespread extreme gastritis among the villagers — probably due to their inability to afford medication,” he said.
This year TFS is sending a relief team to Nepal under the project Post-Earthquake Aid & Care for Nepal (PEACE NEPAL 2017) in July but Rib’e will not be part of it.
He will instead undergo an internship with non-profit organisation Hospitals Beyond Boundaries (HBB) that has operations in both Malaysia and Myanmar.
On his future plans, Rib’e said he hopes to become a paediatrician once he graduates.
“I hope to work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to conduct care for refugees. I believe there is a lot to be done in that area,” he said.
Rib’e is also currently the deputy president of Kelab I CUCMS which organises Islamic-based activities both on campus and outside like Hafazan classes at the Cyberjaya.
Name: Rib’e Mohd Parid
Education: Third-year Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) student at Cyberjaya University College of Medical Sciences
Experience: Project Director for Laos International Family Endeavour (LIFE) 2016, Deputy President of Kelab I CUCMS