On Thursday the 6th of May 2021 Ambulance Victoria (AV) and the Australian Intercultural Society (AIS) co-hosted the 5th Ambulance Victoria Iftar dinner in the Altona area, attracting the local Muslim and multicultural community. The dinner was MC’ed by Ambulance Victoria CEO Assoc. Professor Tony Walker and featured a keynote speech by Dr Omar Baarini.
The evening was a lovely opportunity to share a meal, reflect on what Ramadan means for us all and the chance to make new friends and connections.
The evening was opened by Australian Intercultural Society’s Executive Director Ahmet Keskin followed by the call to prayer by Sheik Alaa El Zokm to signify breaking of the fast. After entrée was served Assoc. Professor Tony warmly welcomed guests noting what a special annual program this is for Ambulance Victoria.
Chair of Ambulance Victoria Mr Ken Lay AO APM then addressed guest and thanked many in the room for their ongoing support of Ambulance Victoria including a special mention for Ambulance Victoria’s Board of Directors many of whom were in attendance. Acknowledgment was also given to former board member Tasneem Chopra for her insight, guidance and challenging the boards thinking while at AV.
The program continued with a powerful and moving video filmed in Ramadan 2020 at the height of Covid-19 in which Muslim members of the Ambulance Victoria community were asked “What does Ramadan mean to you”. What’s highlighted in the video is the raw emotion in a time of such uncertainty. The interviewees spoke of Ramadan being about patience, tolerance, sacrifice and a chance to spiritually reset.
The keynote address was presented by Podiatric Surgeon Dr Omar Baarini. Dr Baarini began by crediting his strong passion for charity work to his faith as a Muslim, quoting Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) “A Man’s true wealth is in the good he does in this world”. Dr Baarini outlined the three key charities he works with highlighting a case that impacted him greatly in which with the help of generous donors, carers and medical professionals a young girl from Gaza, Palestine, who was born without ears was given the gift of ears and hearing. Dr Baarini concluded his address with a powerful reminder to guests not to underestimate what value they can add to someone’s life even if it’s just one person.
The evening concluded with some thoughts from members of the crowd and a final statement from AIS Executive Director, Ahmet Keskin. Overall, the Ambulance Victoria Iftar was a great success, and all members of the community in attendance were excited to see what the future holds for the program in its continuing years.