As coronavirus lockdown brought normal life in Saudi Arabia to a halt, a group of Saudi princes, doctors, bankers, engineers, businessmen, teachers and students are working to take care of those self-isolating.
Over 600 volunteers are working 24 hours a day to distribute essential items and food baskets to quarantine sites across the Makkah region and the Eastern province for free, helping residents stay inside and curb the spread of coronavirus.
“We started a few days before the national lockdown came into the effect, as many cities had started imposing curfews. Since then, we have had an overwhelming response from people,” said Talal Jameel Abdulghani, leader and founder of Barq Rescue Team, the first Saudi volunteer team certified by the Ministry of Interior.
Barq usually specialises in search and rescue operations during floods and natural disasters, but when coronavirus arrived in Saudi Arabia on March 2, they realised their focus must change.
"We are taking a different approach because we realise that volunteering under such circumstances is a national duty," Mr Abdulghani told The National
“The community has to come together and Saudi Arabia has blessed all of us in many ways and it’s our turn to give back to our country,” he said.
So far the team has handed our over 10,000 food baskets to more than 10,000 homes, with plans to reach 50,000 families by the end of Ramadan.
Mr Abdulghani also revealed that the Barq team has also launched a new campaign that offers services online for those who need it, and allows others to donate meals for distribution.
Some of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent figures have been inspired to take part, including celebrities and athletes, he said.
“We were honoured to have two of the best football players, Mohammed Noor, former Saudi national football player and Captain of Al Ittihad football club and Omar Al Somah, Al Ahli football club striker.”
Hussaim Miniawi, a member of the Barq volunteer team, said they are doing everything they can to continue to support those who need it.
“In such challenging times, organisations like Barq rescue team, which exist to serve the community, must step up,” Mr Miniawi said.
“Our purpose says that we exist to ‘Create Social Impact’ – so that’s what we’re doing,” he added.
As people lack knowledge about the danger posed by Covid-19 and how to protect themselves against the virus, the team has also focused on raising awareness about the virus and sharing key messages from the government, including hands washing guidance, social distancing, and avoiding large gatherings.