Islamabad - Pakistan is one of the major Muslims countries from where a large number of people travel to Saudi Arabia every year to perform Hajj. However, a majority of them are not only illiterate and unfamiliar with Hajj rituals, but also the local language, the law, and other related matters.

To facilitate them, Pakistani expatriates living in different cities of Saudi Arabia have been offering their services under the umbrella of Pakistan Hajj Volunteer Group (PHVG) for the last seven years.

These Pakistani expatriates after getting training on volunteer work moved to Makkah and Madina during Hajj days and help the elderly, sick and physically-challenged pilgrims in performing Hajj rituals.

The PHVG is a non-governmental and non-political group in Riyadh with an aim to assist and help Pakistani pilgrims during Hajj.

The group provides services to pilgrims through the mobilization of Pakistani expatriates and its volunteers remain in the field 24 hours a day during the Hajj operations.

This year, the group successfully completed its 7th consecutive Hajj operation. More than 100 teams of PHVG were deployed at 250 localities at Mina to facilitate the pilgrims including elderly men, women and disabled.

The volunteers, aside from helping the wandering pilgrims to relocate their distinctions, served dozens of ailing, elderly, and disabled persons in performing their Hajj rituals.

The volunteers also assist as many as 40 pilgrims, admitted at different Saudi hospitals, in performing Hajj rituals on wheelchairs and shoulders.

Abrar Hussain, a senior PHVG member, told The Nation that their volunteers were not allowed to perform Hajj while they were on duty as their only obligation was to help the pilgrims in need.

He said the PHVG is a non-political group of Pakistani expatriates and it generates its own funds within the group to meet Hajj operation expenses.

Muhammad Hassan Wazir, a senior official of Pakistan Embassy in Saudi Arabia, said the services of PHVG volunteers for the guests of “God” were commendable.

He said PHVG volunteers work 12 to 18 hours during Hajj days in Makkah and Madina, which is an exemplary effort.

Salman Arian, the PHVG central coordinator, said our volunteers belong to the different ethnicity, which is a proof that the group provides services without any discrimination. He proudly said, “Allah chooses us from millions to serve the guest of God.”

“I am impressed with the performance of the PHVG volunteers, Ibrahim Khan, a pilgrim, said. Khan fell sick after reaching Saudi Arabia and he was admitted to hospital and the volunteers’ help made him able to perform Hajj.

Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Sardar Muhammad Yousuf appreciated services of the PHVG and said, “Over 1,600 Pakistani volunteers in Saudi Arabia are our support and we are our proud of them.”

The minister said the religious ministry has the acknowledgment for their motivation and dedication towards serving the needy pilgrims. Sardar Yousuf said the religious ministry will soon award a letter of appreciation to the PHVG for their noble services in Makkah and Madina.

The PHVG started its services from Mina with only 85 volunteers. Following its first successful operation, the number of volunteers started increasing and in the 2012 Hajj operation, more than 250 presented their service. This figure rose to 1,000 in 2013 and 1,500 in 2015, respectively. Currently, the group has over 1,600 trained and skilled volunteers from across Saudi Arabia.