Who, when calamity befalls them, say, “Verily, to God we belong and, to Him we shall return.”
Today, March 15th, 2019 has been deemed a dark day in New Zealand. A group of white supremacists went into two Christchurch masjids (mosques) during Friday prayers and opened fire. More than 50 people have been pronounced dead and over 20 people so far have been reported critically injured. A few of the terrorists are currently in custody, including one that posted a 93 page document online on his ideology and reasons for today’s attack.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, gave a strong condemnation in her statement earlier, announcing that this was a terrorist attack on the nation. I am grateful for her words and leadership, one that this world needs.
I am truly dumbfounded by today’s attack but for whatever reason, I’m not as surprised as I should be. We have not forgotten the attacks on houses of worship that have taken place here at home and globally in just the past few years. We have not forgotten the people who were hurt or perished in a moment of prayer and meditation in the safety of their sanctuary.
If you are going to Friday prayers today, be cautious of your surroundings. I urge masjids with separate entrances for ladies (which is usually a side or back door) please ensure it’s safe and guarded. If you’re a non Muslim wanting to grace your local masjid with your support, call ahead or go early. Your solidarity is very much needed and appreciated.
Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, founder of MuslimGirl, shared an excellent five step call to action in her recent Twitter thread which I’ve taken the liberty to share here. In the thread, she shares the LaunchGood crowdfunding campaign being spearheaded to help the victims of the attack.
Please keep the people of New Zealand in your thoughts and prayers. May God grant them strength and patience to get through this difficult, sad time… ameen.
This page is where I’ll add any further updates, other ways to give and show support, and other calls of action as deemed fit.
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.
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.netor call 211.
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.
.الذين اذا اصابتهم مصيبة قالوا انا لله وانا اليه راجعون
Who say, when afflicted with calamity: “To God We belong, and to Him is our return”
As many of you are well aware, over the past weekend, the Philippines was struck with what is being deemed the strongest storms to hit land in human history. Many in central Philippines have been evacuated, displaced or deceased. There is no official count yet as to how many causalities but at least several tens of thousands are in dire need of basic supplies to rise from this natural disaster.
Our loved ones in the Philippines need to be in our thoughts and prayers. Their rise from this disaster will not be easy and every bit of support counts! If you’d like to donate and volunteer towards the support and rebuilding efforts, you can do so no matter where you are in the world!
For those of us in Qatar, the Embassy of the Philippines* is collecting donations to be shipped out via Qatar Airways as overseen by the Emir. Donations need to be brought to the embassy no later than this Friday, November 15th and by next Friday, November 22nd. Currently what is of priority are canned foods, canned baby foods, dried foods (crackers, fruits, nuts, etc), over the counter medicines, first aid kits and toiletries (sanitizers and female products). I’ll be making a Carrefour/Almeera run for some of the listed items early Friday morning (Nov 15th). If you are interested in participating or contributing toward these purchases, kindly contact me via Twitter or Facebook as soon as possible.
For those of you in the United States, you can contribute money and time to the Islamic Relief organization. This 4 star non-profit charity organization is very well known for their tireless efforts in providing hands on support within the US and across the globe. You can donate money either through your local city/state chapter or directly on their website.
As previously shared on my Facebook page through a trusted friend living in the Philippines, you can make contributions to the grassroots organization NAFCON. NAFCON, headquartered in San Francisco, has several branches across California and the US dedicated to disaster relief:
Northern California Chapter: firstname.lastname@example.org / 626.534.4971
Southern California Chapter: email@example.com / 253.381.7444
Northwest Chapter: firstname.lastname@example.org; (206) 659–1896 Midwest Chapter: email@example.com; (224) 381–6888
East Coast Chapter: firstname.lastname@example.org; (650) 808–5043
The Filipino Community Center in the San Francisco Mission District is also collecting donations and supplies to be sent to the Philippines. To donate, volunteer and contribute to the efforts, kindly call +1415.333.6267 or email: email@example.com.
This post will be updated regularly, kindly share any legitimate resources you may have to support our brothers and sisters in the Philippines.
*I understand the many concerns people have in dealing with the Filipino government. However, this is being overseen by several trustworthy organizations here in Qatar and the embassy here is highly regarded amongst the Filipino community in Qatar.
Last night, I sat at the Cornishe Marina in Doha waiting for something to happen at the strike of midnight. Some fireworks, some bangs, something! I was with friends whom were nothing but good and supportive of me since I’ve been to Qatar. I called my parents and siblings back in California to wish them a happy new year, discussing my brother and his wife blessing our family with a grandson/nephew.
In the odd silence of the evening, I found myself reflecting on my adventures and challenges throughout the past year. I realized that of all the things I experienced – from working on my first national sports event to moving to Qatar – I learned about dealing with people the most. It reminded me of a quote I read recently,
“The worst regret we have in life is not for the wrong thing we did, but for the thousands of right things we did for the wrong people!” –Anonymous
Despite all the good, bad and ugly I came across in people this past year, the said quote for me remains untrue. I would rather continue doing the right things for the wrong people then any wrong thing to anyone at all.
Personally, I have no regrets. I’ve learned from the wrong people so that I can continue to be the right person. I’m learning everyday on dealing with people in a world where many cultures and ideologies collide. I thought of those people, of what I’ve experienced and learned.
With those, I knew what my 2013 resolutions would be:
Socially: While doing the right things by them, I need to push away the negative people aside to keep the positive people closer. I simply can not waste my time and air on people whom in the end do not care about anyone but themselves. I’ll be a little busy surrounding myself and supporting those that support me regardless.
Career Wise: I’m going to be doing something different and slightly outside my comfort zone. I already took the big step last summer so now, I just have to take the bull by the horns and run with it. Not to fear the challenge to come ahead but to face it head on. I’m up to it. I know I am!
Personally: I plan to continue what I started in 2012, living by the lovely Italian theory of “l’arte d’arrangiarsi“, the art of making something out of nothing. Start by doing something fresh and different every month, every week, every day.
Midnight struck and nothing happened. No fireworks, no bangs, nothing at all. Friends quietly wished each other a happy new year as everyone started heading home. I was a little disappointment but then again, I didn’t come to Qatar for the fireworks or the bangs.
Updated 2:00pm PST 22 Jan 2010… feel free to utilize this blog & repost it with proper credits…
On Tuesday 12 January 2010, the island nation of Haiti was struck by a 7.0 earthquake and then up to 24 aftershocks ranging from 4.8 to 5.9 on the ricker scale. Being one of the poorest nations in the Western Hemiphere, Haiti’s infraustructure did not withstand the quakes. Over hundreds of thousands of people across the country are presummed dead, missing or trapped until trumendious rumble.
The developments out of Haiti right now continue to be heartbreaking and devastating. Below, I have listed organizations that can use your financial help, volunteerism or to simply spread the word. Many of these organizations are already on the ground in Haiti providing necessary food, water, medicine and shelter to the many in need. Below are direct links to these organizations as well as phone numbers to call:
You can also donate via text message through the following organizations & the amount will be added to your phone bill.
–Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti: text “YELE” to 501501 to donate $5
–The American Red Cross: text “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10
–Rescue Union Mission & MedCorp International: text “HAITI” to 85944 to donate $5
–Internal Rescue Committee: text “HAITI” to 25383 to donate $5
–United Way Worldwide’s Disaster Fund: text “HAITI“ to 864833 to donate $5
–Clinton Foundation: text “HAITI” to 20222 to donate $10
–Salvation Army in Canada: text “HAITI” to 45678 (Canada only)
–UN Fund: text “CERF” to 90999 to donate $5 (Terms of Agreement)
Other important information regarding relief & support for the people of Haiti:
If you or someone you know in the USA are trying to connect with family/friends in Haiti, The US Dept of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services has set up two numbers you can call: 1.800.407.4747 and 202.647.5225. You can also check the missing people board or add to it by going to Koneksyon.com which was set up by “Sebastien Barrau” and “Marvin Chery as well as the ICRC Family Links.
Doctors, nurses and anyone in the medical field, your expertise is needed!! Please visit or call the following organizations for more details… FYI: American Airlines if flying medical help to Haiti for FREE, learn more by calling 212.697.9767.