Nigerian recalls his Polio Volunteering experience in the US

When 35-year-old Shafeeque Ahmad went to the three-week STOP program orientation in Atlanta, he knew he was probably the only one in the group of 177 from all over the world who had spent the majority of his school life studying in an Islamic school (madrassa).
Coming from a Muslim-dominated town in northern India, Shafeeque studied a predominantly religious curriculum including the Koran, Haddiths, Islamic law and other works till he was well into his late teens. For most of his youth and early working life, he stood out among his peers who chiefly studied in English schools in India with little or no exposure to religious teachings. "As I set foot in US for the first time for the training, I had my doubts whether I belonged there. But as soon as I got to meet others, I knew what was needed from me," he said.
 Shafeeque Ahmad (STOP Volunteer) and religious focal persons compiling a list of mosques and schools which promote polio vaccination
Shafeeque on the right
It was this very distinct upbringing that led CDC and UNICEF to approach Shafeeque to join as a STOP volunteer in the northern Nigerian state of Kaduna to strengthen engagement with religious leaders. His background, degree in social work and experience of working in Africa uniquely qualified him for the task.
"What I am doing today is a culmination of my whole life’s experiences and it is immensely fulfilling," says Shafeeque. "As soon as I convey my salutations to religious leaders, arms and doors open for me to engage with them and harness their commitment to wipe out polio from Nigeria," he adds.
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