Category Archives: USA

A Moment of Reflection

The other day, I went out for a walk after staying home for a good week straight. Upper Great Highway by the Ocean Beach Trail was (and still is) closed to traffic. The skies were a bit gloomy, the air was cold and the waves were hushed. I just stood there in the middle of the road for a moment.

As I’m asthmatic, I’m at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 than most. My last major asthma attack was on the night of January 31st. I got tested for the flu and pneumonia, which consisted of an x-ray and a horrid nasal swap. None of which was comfortable, all of which came back negative. I had to go to Urgent Care about a week or so later as my allergy symptoms didn’t elevate since. This took place before I realized that COVID-19 was spreading, fast.

San Francisco and most of the Bay Area have sheltered in place since March 15th but most of my family and co-workers sheltered in place prior to that as a precaution. Life has been different, interesting, amusing, and frustrating. I’ve had to adjust, adapt, postpone and reevaluate my priorities. I’m no parent but I’ve had to help step in and home school my first-grade nephew. It reminded me of why I never continued on the career paths of being a teacher or pediatrician but grateful a million folds for those that are.

As I stood there facing the gloomy skies above the sea, I kept thinking despite it all, this was a reminder of our blessings. We live in a friendly, family-oriented, and supportive community. I’ve been in better touch with family and friends than ever before, just checking in on each other and making sure everyone is OK. I’ve seen neighbors and community members on my walks and even under masks and six feet apart, we see the smiles.

Where our national leadership has failed, our community leaders have risen up to take charge. Our healthcare workers and first responders the world over have been working tirelessly to care for us, even when they themselves need to be cared for. Our grocery stores are stocked, our restaurants are delivering, and even my tiny desk for work was shipped sooner than expected.

The people behind all that goodness remind me of our blessings, much of which we take for granted. They give me hope that we will get through this uncertainty with a bit more faith, gratitude and empathy. The absolute humility that has come out of this pandemic have truly restored my faith in humanity.

And as I stood there in the middle of the road, I saw a small ray of light through the gloomy skies. Seeing it as a good omen, I took out my phone to capture this moment.

I am a firm believer that when God puts us to it, God will pull us through it. So have faith that this too shall pass. Please, if possible, consider volunteering or donating to causes out there supporting our communities, front line and essential angels. Check on your family, friends and neighbors regularly when possible. If you need someone to talk too, know that I’m but a message away. And please, I urge you all to continue to stay home and stay healthy. We will get through this, together!

I Survived the Loma Prieta Earthquake

I survived the Loma Prieta earthquake, 30 years ago!

Image result for loma prieta
c/o NBC Bay Area

Today, October 17, is the 30th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake. That 6.9 magnitude earthquake hit the Bay Area 30 years ago, yet I remember it like it was yesterday!

I was seven years old, home with family after school, coloring when all my crayons started going all over the place. “Stop messing with my crayons!” I yelled at my brothers but before they could answer, my pregnant mom screamed at us to get under the table, it was an earthquake.

Those were the longest seconds of my young life under that table!

Related image
c/o San Francisco Chronicle

Luckily, we had just gone through the safety drill in school, how one should dock and cover under a table or stand in a door frame as my mom did when an earthquake struck. We stepped outside our small two floor apartment building after the fact, checking on neighbors and friends.

Back in our apartment, still shaken, we picked up all that fell and assessed the minor damages. My mom was so worried with the local news reporting of the rising death toll, major damages and aftershocks throughout the day that she had us sleeping in the building lobby that night to easily escape if need be.

I remember the image of the collapsed section of the Bay Bridge on the news. Seeing it these many years later sometimes beings that flush of fright my seven year old self felt back then. I also remember the ongoing repairs that took place months and years since then. Including the repairs to the Ferry Building, which rang when the earthquake struck in 1989.

Are we ready or prepared 30 years later? How does one get prepared? Make a plan with your family and friends. Know all your exits at home as well as at work and school. At home, have a first aid kit, canned foods, water and other necessary supplies packed in an accessible pantry/space. Make sure your home or renter’s insurance in a state like California covers you should your health or home be affected. And finally, stay informed and ask questions. It can save your life!

National Voter Registration Day

Today is National Voter Registration Day. Are you registered to vote? Not sure if you are? Need to update your information? Under 18 years old? Go to vote.org today and take a few minutes to register, pre-register or update your registration.

FYI, if you are not yet 18 years old, many states like California will allow you to pre-register to vote at the age of 16 or 17 years old. This means that the few minutes you take today to pre-register automatically registers you to vote on your 18th birthday. How sweet is that? Click here to check your state’s requirements to pre-register to vote.

A few minutes out of your day is all that it takes!

Want to make a difference? Vote. Want a better future for our children? Vote. Want something done about climate change? Vote. Want to end the Muslim Ban? Vote. Want to reform the immigration policies? Vote. Want to protect LGBTQ rights? Vote. Want equal pay for equal work? Vote. Want to see any real change? Vote.

Please share this post to all your family and friends, young and old.

Their Names are Deah, Yusor and Razan

I repost this to honor their names. I repost this to honor the lives lost to hate. I repost this to honor the lives lost to gun violence. I repost this so that we never forget.

Ms. Hala

Three Muslim students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina were heard being killed in their home. They were killed execution style, bullets to the head, by their angry neighbor. I learned of their death from different individuals on Twitter. My heart sank as I have family in North Carolina. I didn’t know them personally but my heart sank deeper, their names are Deah, Yusor and Razan.

They were sisters. They were daughers and sons. They were newly weds. They were aspiring dentists and architects. They were kind and generous. They were the activists many of us aspire to be. They had just taken part in contributing to homeless community with food and dental supplies. They had just traveled were to travel to Turkey to provide Syrian refugees with medical assistance.

As I read of their short lived lives and brutal death through my Twitter feed, none of the tweets came from American mainstream news media. They came…

View original post 200 more words

How to Help Those Affected by the California Wildfires

The wildfires in my home state of California has been devastating. The Camp Fire in Butte County has claimed over 40 lives, burned over 110,000 acres and only 30% contained as of writing. This fire has been so far the worst in California history. A second fire in Southern California’s Ventura County deemed the Woolsey Fire is fast spreading. CAL FIRE reports as of this writing that the fire has spread across over 91,500 acres and only 20% contained. There have been five injuries, three of which are firefighters and I’m praying there will not be reporting of causalities.

Being almost 200 miles away from Butte County, the billowing smoke has affected the air quality here in the San Francisco Bay Area. I’ve used my rescue inhaler over twice a day since the fires began. I’ve stayed indoors as much as possible over the weekend, dunned a face mask when one was available to me but I keep thinking, how are the people in the heart of this disaster even coping?

The first responders have put their own lives on the line helping people evacuate and attempting to put out this fire. Many of them are from Butte County and have family forced to evacuate and lost their own homes in the fire.

So how can we help our fellow Californians in their times of need? Below are a few organizations I’m aware of that are on the grounds. Your donations in the form of finances and time would be greatly appreciated.

Source: AP/Noah Berger via Islamic Relief USA

Islamic Relief USA has a Disaster Response Team that is helping those affected by the fires in both northern and southern California. The California Community Foundation has a Wildfire Relief Fund currently supporting recovery and preparedness. Benevity is supporting the American Red Cross’ efforts on the ground.

According to the Sacramento Bee, shelters have been receiving “generous but useless donations”. Meaning, kindly check what is needed before donating your entire stash of hygiene products. If you can’t donate things like underwear or backpacks, the best thing to do is to donate a gift card from say Target. Your time is also highly appreciated but please inquire ahead, your safety and that of others come first.

I’ll update this post with any additional information I come across on how we can continue to help those affected throughout California. If you have additional information to share, kindly email me or post them in the comments below.

For help, support or information for Butte County, please go buttecounty.net or call 211.

UPDATE – 14 November: ABC7 News Bay Area is teaming up with Vitalant for a blood drive. The North Valley Community Foundation is collection corporate gifts and in-kind donations. To volunteer, head to Caring Choices for more information.

Captured November 21st at 7am on Judah Street

UPDATE – 16 November: GoFundMe has created a central page with verified campaigns to help the victims. The same has been done by Charity Navigator, listing all verified organizations on the grounds in both Northern and Southern California. The California Fire Foundation is providing both financial and emotional support to the firefighters and the fallen officers and their families. Let’s be sure to showcase our support and appreciation to the amazing firefighters and first responders.

For details on the current air quality in the Bay Area, go to airnow.gov and enter the zip code of your area. As of this writing, it’s lingering at 233 here in San Francisco which is “very unhealthy”. According to KTVU, we are experiencing the worst air quality in the world. I took this picture this morning of the smoke looming above the Sunset district. Due to the air quality, most schools and universities are not open today or the rest of the week.

UPDATE – November 21: I’m sure there are many small businesses supporting the victims of the California wildfires. One of them is San Francisco’s QSpa, located on both Steiner and Divisidaro, off the Haight. Right now, QSpa is donating 100% of the proceeds from the sales of their $25 in-house cuticle oil to those affected in Butte County. For $15, you can bring back your empty bottle for a refill.

Final Update – December 1: The Camp Fire may be fully out but there is still much to do to help our friends get their lives back to some form of normalcy and rebuild the many towns affected. I want to be able to continue to showcase my support in any way possible. Therefore, all season long, I’ll be donating some of the proceeds from Ms. Hala’s Boutique to the Islamic Relief USA  and the  California Fire Foundation, two of many amazing organizations helping our friends across the state. Please continue to share this post and add on it to with any additional information in the comments below.

 

vote. Vote. VOTE!

Today is November 6th, midterm election day! ☑️ Have you voted yet?

I finally got my vote by mail ballot a few days ago, so took out my fancy pen and voted. Every time I vote, I think of the sacrifices of the suffragettes, the civil rights leaders, and my immigrant family who have made voting for many of us possible.

As Oprah said last week, honor our ancestors and GO VOTE!

“This was a day when truth overran tweets, when facts overwhelmed bald assertions.” – Dan Balz

Upon the breaking news of Micheal Cohen’s guilty plea and Paul Manafort’s guilty conviction, many declared it to be Trump’s darkest hour of his presidency. The quote that stood out to me upon reading this morning’s Wake Up to Politics newsletter was that of the chief correspondent of the Washington Post, Dan Balz. The truth always prevails and we need to support our press in relaying the truth to the people every single day.