A Muslim and his MERV

Sheikh is top Magen David Adom volunteer in Jaffa

May 30, 2019 06:24
2 minute read.
From right to left: Adam, Hadar, Sabriya, Ahmad and Nawer Abu Saif

From right to left: Adam Abu Saif, Hadar Abu Saif, Sabriya Abu Saif, Ahmad Abu Saif and Nawer Abu Saif, who already dreams of being a paramedic.. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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“God gives us the tools to give; we need to use them,” is the message that Sheikh Ahmad Abu Saif, 43, said he wanted to share.

Abu Saif, married with five children and the sheikh in a Jaffa neighborhood mosque, began volunteering for Magen David Adom as a first responder about a year and a half ago. Now, he is one of MDA’s senior volunteers in Jaffa.

He hops into his MERV – a Mini-Electrical Response Vehicle supplied with first-aid and advanced resuscitation equipment designed to shorten MDA’s response time – and serves his community. He keeps his MERV parked in his front yard.

Abu Saif told The Jerusalem Post that it all started when he heard that there would be an MDA training course in his neighborhood. He attended the first session out of curiosity. Then, he returned for the second class.

“It really ignited something in me to help,” Abu Saif said.

It inspired his children, too. Now, three of them – Sabriya, 19; Hadar, 18; and Adam, 15 – volunteer, too.

“It is in my soul to give,” he told the Post. “I have found a way to help my people.”

But Abu Saif is a busy man. He works in the Bat Yam municipality, located on the border with Jaffa, every day from 4:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. He also leads his mosque in prayer five times daily. Yet, he said he is never too tired to volunteer and can attend to several calls a day.

“Everything comes from God,” he said.

The sheikh has some fascinating stories. Just this week, he told the Post that he received a call for help that turned out to be from his grandmother. He arrived on the scene and she was having an epileptic seizure. Abu Saif administered first aid and called the ambulance, which transferred her to the hospital where she is recovering.

Since the MDA volunteer center in Jaffa was launched, it has grown to about 100 adult and some 70 youth volunteers, he said. Abu Saif helps to organize their volunteer schedule. The group serves Jaffa’s large Muslim community, but also local Jews and Christians.

Jaffa is known for its heterogeneous population of Jews, Christians and Muslims. According to the most recent report, of its roughly 46,000 residents, about 30,000 are Jews and 16,000 are Arabs.

“We work together,” Abu Saif said of MDA. “When you enter MDA, there is no racism, no religion. It is just people helping each other. It is saving lives.

“All of us are friends,” he continued. “We connect to one another.”

“I really love MDA,” added his daughter Sabriya. “It really opened my heart to give. Now, I am so proud to help the girls in Jaffa when they are in trouble.”

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