Portrait of the month: Iman, student involved with Emmaus Iasi (Dec. 2020)

This month, you will be able to discover the testimony of Iman, a student at the Faculty of Medicine in Iasi who has been involved in Emmaus food distribution for several years.

Hello, can you briefly introduce yourself ?

My name is HELMY REZK HANNA Iman Lisa, I am in Romania because I am a general medicine student, I am in the 5th year at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy Grigore T. Popa from Iași. I am here from 2016.

How did you find out about Emmaus Iasi?

In 2017, I became the head of the humanitarian section of the French-speaking student association. In this context, I tried to create partnership with local associations in order to organise food distribution in the street of Iasi in collaboration with them. I first got in touch with the French Institute which directed me to Emmaus Iasi, telling me that the association was very active and recognised throughout the city. So I got in touch with Emmaus and this was the beginning of a long collaboration. 

I already knew a little about Emmaus in France, but I was not an active member or volunteer at that time. It all started once I was in Romania. 

Tell us more about your involvement with Emmaus Iasi?

I had the opportunity to get involved with the foundation for 4 years now.  First as head of the humanitarian pole of the Medical Corporation of Iasi (CMI), which later became AMFSI. In this capacity, we were able to organise food distributions together to complement the regular distributions already organised by Emmaus. From clothing distributions to hot meals distributions, for Christmas or Easter… We were able to distribute around a hundred meals and clothes, involving students from different backgrounds and raising awareness in the student community of the difficult conditions of part of the city’s population.

I then left the association, and it was as an independent volunteer that I was able to help out on food distributions. As a fourth-year student at that time, I was also able to provide basic medical care when needed on the street (Deep infected wounds, burns…). 

You are no longer a member of AMSFI, but there are new members, aren’t there? How is the transmission of actions to new members going?

There are new members of course! And it’s a real pleasure to see students volunteering so willingly and with such kindness. As head of the humanitarian cluster for two years, I was able to involve a lot of students in the events we were organising. I think that the transmission started right from those moments. I then passed the role of pole leader to a friend of mine, who was also a member of the pole, while remaining available to give a helping hand and advice to the next generation. All the former members of the centre and myself try to give ideas for events, to share the contacts of associations and people with whom we were able to organise events in order to facilitate contacts between students and associations in need. 

What do you like about these actions for the most deprived ? Why are you involved?

I think it’s the fact of feeling useful and giving. I have learned the real meaning of altruism, perseverance. Humanitarian work has always brought me a lot.It has given me the opportunity to meet new people, to share life experiences and get involved in causes that are very important to me.  It’s really rewarding, you receive as much as you give. This is what I would like to continue doing for as long as possible. 

Do you have an anecdote to tell us?

I have so many anecdotes to tell! When we first began our activities with the humanitarian pole we had to deal with some last minute messes which, in retrospect, still make us laugh a lot. For example, when we had to find someone to be Santa Claus and patch up a suit for him just a few hours before Christmas for the children at the Sfânta Maria hospital. Or another time when we mixed the gifts by mistake and offered a lumberjack axe instead of a little doll to a 4 year old girl and she started “chopping up” everything and everyone with a laugh. I have lots of good memories of the events I organized. 

Even today, when I am on the street and I see that the people I help recognize me, I find it very gratifying. 

Another thing that also made a big impression on me was the reception we had for the fundraising I created with my pole  for Christmas in 2018. We had collected around €1500 and I was deeply touched to see how much the students, their families and our friends in Romania and France could feel concerned and get involved in our actions, it will remain an unforgettable memory for me. 

Do you think this personal commitment will have an impact on your work as a doctor?

When I became the head of the humanitarian division, I didn’t think it would affect me as much,in a positive way of course. I’m sure it will have an impact on my work as a doctor. I would like to continue in humanitarian actions and on an even larger scale if I am lucky enough to be able to do so. It really matters to me and after a while I would like to set up my own association. 

What do you want to do after college ?

I will finish college in 2022 and until then I will certainly continue to get involved with the foundation. I don’t think I’ll ever stop working for the association, it’s almost part of me now. I still don’t know what my future plans are. I would like to practice a speciality required in international humanitarian actions.I continue to learn every day in my courses and in my personal life and I remain open to any opportunities that might be offered to me. 

Thank you Iman for your testimony and your involvement!