A general practitioner from the neighborhood near the tower, Ahmed Kazmi, wrote this on the British Medical Journal Blog to describe his visit to an already well-staffed community center:
As a doctor I felt slightly redundant. The centres were very well staffed as so many doctors and nurses had volunteered. I sat down on the floor and played with some children. I didn’t use my stethoscope those hours I was at the centre, but I still feel I was a doctor. I think that sometimes empathy and witnessing someone’s grief are as important a part of our role as procedures or prescribing.
He also noted:
. . . A group of young black Muslim boys, who were fasting themselves, walked around with jumbo pizzas offering everyone slices. A group of ladies arrived to offer face painting for the children. . . It was striking how all of the usual prejudices or divisions, which so frequently surface, were all suspended. People from all walks of life were empathetic and loving to each other. For a period at least people stopped being black, white, Muslim etc and were just “human.” If this type of unity is possible in times of tragedy, I think it is realistic to aim for it all the time.
Sometimes presence and connection is the best, or even the only, healing. And part of partnering is developing the ability to sense the needs of the other, and find a way to help meet them. It is also not just about the individual “patient” but of the whole community and environment. Thank you Dr. Kazmi.