Tag Archives: California

How to Help Those Affected by the California Wildfires – 2.0

I’m disheartened as I find myself writing another version of a similarly titled rant.

The wildfires burning across not just the state of California, but the entire western US region is alarming and heartbreaking. Mainly caused by the effects of climate change and a few dumb human mistakes, these fires have now become one of the largest yet on record.

In California, fires have now claimed over 25 lives, burned over 3.2 million acres, with some fires barely 50-70% contained as I write this rant. Even while being many miles away from the closest fire, the smoke has made the air quality all across the Bay Area and the state one of the worst in the world. At one point, according to IQair, we in San Francisco hit 200AQI or “purple”. San Francisco air is now in the “green” for the first time in over a month.

Since my asthma attack earlier this year, I haven’t used my inhaler as much as I have these past several weeks. I have been home for almost three weeks straight and finally went for a walk for the first time this week, masked of course. Yet 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 these fires. They’ve even gotten help from firefighters from as far as Australia, who battled their own wildfires barely a year ago.

If you still deny that climate change is real, please educate yourself!

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

– The California Fire Foundation is providing both financial and emotional support to our hardworking firefighters on the grounds as well as fallen officers and their families. Let’s be sure to show your appreciation to the amazing s/heroes out there.

Islamic Relief USA has a Disaster Response Team that is helping those affected by the fires all across the western coast.

– The American Red Cross is also providing assistance for all those affected by the wildfires, from temporary shelters to blood drives.

– The North Valley Community Foundation is continuing what they started during the Camp and Butte fires back in 2018 and providing continued support to local resources across Northern California.

– Of course, the World Central Kitchen is still helping provide hot meals across Calfornia as well as Washington and Oregon states. You can also donate to local food banks in the region through Feeding America.

I’ll update this rant with any additional information I come across to do our part in helping our fellow Americans throughout the west coast. If you have additional information to share, kindly email me or post the sources in the comments below.

Picture of the Day

Alhamdulillah (Praise God) for the beauty of the small things in our path. Blessed Friday to one and all!

Back to Normal? What Normal?

I recently posted the following statement on Instagram and Twitter, “I do not want to go back to normal. I want to go forward to a better, brighter, and peaceful future.”

I have been reflecting a lot these past several weeks on many, many things, from what’s happening around us to my personal well being. How can I do better for not just this world, but also for myself? Do I have faith that these changes will indeed be for the better or is this just another phase?

The world is currently in a crisis, not one started by the COVID pandemic, but indeed exacerbated by it. Although many act like the virus has miraculously disappeared overnight or pushing their localities to “reopen already”, the crisis is still very much upon us. We are still in the first wave of this pandemic and the second, I believe, is not far behind.

Our planet isn’t getting better because people have stayed home. It may have gotten a small break, sure, but it will indeed get worse. As highlighted by a recent USA Today report, environmentalists are worried about the rise of waste in our oceans. Mainly, COVID related wastes such as masks and gloves, both made of materials that are not necessarily biodegradable.

Our country is already anticipating a historical record rise in evictions. So many people right now, especially our essential workers, are unable to pay their rents as perfectly covered by Hasan Minhaj. This is not a problem of rent affordability but how we’ve allowed corporate landlords to take advantage of a difficult situation to make a quick profit. This is not the first time – for those who have forgotten the 2008 recession – nor is COVID the sole reason behind it.

In a matter of weeks, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd were killed either by lynching or unnecessary police violence. “My gut told me he did it”? No knock warrant? Choked to death for over 8 minutes? The social contract we’ve been forced to adhere too by so many that haven’t followed through, as best put by Trevor Noah, has been broken. Better yet, it’s always been a flawed design. I think with the recent protests, those that had never experienced police brutality saw first hand what a militarized, systemically racist police force are “allowed” to do to its citizens practicing their first amendment rights.

Poverty, corporate greed, systemic racism, and the environment are long suffered issues, that were never going to survive this pandemic.

I’m not in any way shape or form undermining the human casualties of COVID. I recently lost a cousin who was just a couple years older than me to COVID. Our family can’t go near my grandfather’s long term care facility in New Jersey where he resides. My father has been dealing with isolation issues after having a thriving social life in the community.

This virus is real, and it’s hurting people. It has not gone away and yet I feel everyone is trying to “get back to normal” like the virus, and the issues exacerbated by it, have magically disappeared overnight. This bugs me to my core!

Am I speaking from a place of privilege when I say I don’t want to go “back to normal” like everyone else? Yes, I miss my extended family, friends, people but patience will get us to a better place, not the “normal” that brought upon this pandemic and horrid response to it.

I know I will most likely not be heading back to work in our offices this year, but I’m so grateful to be able to work from home. I will not be traveling this summer as planned but I still have options to do so when the time is right. My hometown of San Francisco is slowly being reopened but I’m very, very cautious while attempting to support local businesses from afar.

I’ve been using this time to read, keeping myself informed, and trying to figure out how I will be better on the other side of all of this. This is the time to build stronger bonds with our families, especially with my nephew. This is the time to learn sometime new, like my mom’s sweet baking recipes. This is the time to figure out what do I want to on the other side of this. And what I want is to be better and brighter.

Nothing will be the same, nor would I expect it to be. If this is not the time to demand change that’ll be beneficial for all as well as self-care and personal growth, when is it?

Quote of the Day

“I can’t breathe” – George Floyd

Please tag or note the artist for credit. This piece is located on Upper Great Highway and Rivera Avenue in San Francisco, CA.

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!