Helping our community after Irma

red cross picture

It’s the first weekend since Hurricane Irma has passed over South Florida and some of my friends are still with out power, the sidewalks are filled with branches and dead trees, and traffic lights are still not working but all that didn’t stop us from helping others. Many from the community took time out of their day and most took money out of their own pockets to help the evacuees located at the Miami Dade Fair Expo. A majority of the evacuees are from Monroe County and unfortunately due to the devastation of the Keys their only option is to stay in the shelter for an undetermined amount of time.

While visiting the shelter we were greeted by a Nurse who was volunteering and also spoke with the supply team leader who informed us of the urgently needed items. We quickly gathered our friends, family and neighbors and with their donations we gathered 30 towels, diapers, pet supplies, clothes, and activities for kids all in a span of 24 hours. This was just a small spec of help that we were able to provide the evacuees at the shelters as many more families and locals assisted as well. From bringing TV’s to power outlets to water bottles, it was great to see so many people of all ages assisting the evacuees. And not only do the donations help the evacuees in that specific shelter but items are being sent to the Keys in truckloads.

For more information on how you can help I have included a link from FIU.

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Empower yourself with Maureen from Life By Her Design

maureen eno

Back in April I attended the UNICEF Annual Meeting in Washington DC and one of my favorite workshops was “How to be an effective introvert leader” by Maureen Eno. She is the founder of Life by Her Design and is an empowerment coach who helps women find their own path in life while providing them with the confidence and tools they need to succeed. The greatest part of this workshop was that she spoke about one of my biggest fears – public speaking. This is definitely one of my least favorite topics at work, and in general, but she shared her funny experiences and was a pleasure to listen to. She was even a little nervous when she started speaking which made this all so much more relatable.

Her icebreaker set the tone for the rest of the workshop as she provided all of us with a Jack, Queen, King card and told us to place it in our forehead without looking at it.
Then we had to talk with the person next to us to try and determine what type of card was in our forehead. It was a great chance to engage with others in the room and it taught us about the importance of connecting and engaging. It is important for a good leader to treat those around them as individuals and to connect with them authentically. It was also a relief to be reminded that the main focus of your audience is to hear the information you are presenting and not to see you sweat profusely. Thinking with the big picture in mind allows you to establish better goals and stay committed.

Maureen is also founder of Echoes of a Kora which is a charity helping underprivileged children in Nigeria. She is an amazing woman and I encourage you to head on over to www.lifebyherdesign.com and check out her valuable resources.

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Diving in Croatia’s underwater winery

zuljana bay

It was a pleasure to meet Sanja – one of the most bravest women I’ve met during my travels. She is a marine biologist and activist at Ekoloska Udruga Mala Sirena which is an NGO dedicated to protecting the marine ecosystems and educating the public about the environment. We met her during our trip to Croatia last week where my friend and I scuba dived to the underwater Edivo Vina winery in Zuljana (located in the Peljesac Peninsula). We were very nervous but she held our hand and walked us thru the whole process. Once we were all ready with our gear it was time to jump off the boat and view the beauty under water. There were corals and fishes and laying at the bottom of the reef was the underwater cellar. A unique experience to view the clay pots in a rack submerged upside down at the bottom of the sea.

zuljana painting

The Edivo Vina winery is a spectacle to see underwater but if you are not interested in diving you can visit their location in Drace and learn about the process while you taste the various wines they offer.
Check out my video here to see more about our adventures.

What made the whole experience so incredible was meeting Sanja. She taught us about the corals, showed us the fishes found underwater and explained the various projects her organization is working on. You can see her vertical gardens near the beach and her work to clean the environment and the Zuljane Bay Marine doesn’t go unnoticed. Such a beautiful town! She is an incredible person who’s mission is one that we can all take part in to help the world become a better place. We learned so much from her and hope to one day to come back and visit her lovely town again.

You can learn more about her diving center at www.divebarbara.com and view all the amazing projects she is working on at www.ekomalasirena.org.

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Making a statement while caring for patients

dr. marium-kazmi

Meet Dr. Marium Kazmi! I’m so happy to introduce you to one of my best friends – she is smart, kind, and a master with the make-up brush. She is not only a doctor but also a philanthropist and role model to her younger sisters. Just recently she had the honor of cloaking her younger sister, Rabiya, with her first white coat who is also following in her footsteps to become a doctor. She has indeed become an inspiration to her family and others as well. Her positivity is always contagious and did I mention she also makes a bold fashion statement in the office? She can make any outfit standout when she wears her coat. Her passion for helping others not only constitutes of being a mentor but also in helping her home country. Marium and her husband donated to the Lahaute Foundation who provide clean drinking water to the villages in rural Pakistan. Their donation made it possible to build a well for one of the villages and provide clean water. Women like her are individuals who are not only working hard to succeed but are also making a difference in the world. They put others before them and never forget where they come from. I wish her nothing but continued success!!

What advice would you give to someone who would like to pursue a career in medicine?

Medicine is such a wonderful field but as with all good things comes immense responsibility. My biggest advice is never to give up if you aspire to pursue a career in medicine. The journey is a long and hard one but the amount of joy you get from helping your patients is well worth the sleepless nights on call, the stress of exams and many sacrifices you have to make in your personal life. Make sure to balance your work and family life, many times you have to miss a lot of important occasions in life due to the long hours but surrounding yourself with supportive family and friends always helps.

Who was your role model growing up?

Growing up my role models were my parents. They immigrated from Pakistan and worked hard to provide everything they could for us. My parents were always helping people who were experiencing difficult times, they’re belief is that you should try and help everyone in any small or big way you can.

What advice would you give to working women who want to make a fashion statement in the office?

I feel that any working professional should always dress the part because your choice of clothing is a reflection of you. It shows you took the time to look presentable and respect your patients and coworkers. As for a fashion statement, I think each person has their unique style and it should reflect in their clothing. Most importantly for me, my choice of clothing for the office always has to be comfortable.

reception table
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Keeping up with the Kazmi’s

kazmi sisters

It’s a play on words but this is all about the Kazmi sisters and how they are helping their community with the national “Project Downtown” movement. This movement began with a few students wanting to make a difference in the community. What once started with a small group passing out food to the homeless in downtown Miami has expanded to a joint undertaking with MSA National. Now there is a Miami chapter created and I have the pleasure to interview two of their directors:

Tell me about yourselves:

 Hi, I’m Rabiya! I am a recent graduate from Florida International University, an aspiring physician, avid humanitarian, shop-o-holic, oh and I also work in the emergency room at Baptist Hospital. I am the Assistant Director of Project Downtown Miami, a college-student run organization that offers food, amenities, and most importantly-company to the homeless population in Downtown Miami. I believe that everyone has the capability to make a difference, what some may consider a small action may significantly impact another.  I’ve always lived by the motto that I’m going to change the world, and one day I hope to achieve this goal.

Hi, I’m Zehra! I recently graduated from Florida International University and am currently working on getting my Doctorate in Physical Therapy. When I’m not stressing out about my next test, I enjoy photographing and napping. I got into photography my sophomore year in high school and was so fascinated every time I stepped into a dark room. Due to the craziness of grad school I barely have time to photograph but do it every now and then for family and friends.

Have you encountered any barriers? How did you overcome them?

We’ve encountered a few problems within our time with Project Downtown Miami. One of the major ones was being forced to relocate. We had been serving under the metro rail at downtown Miami for almost 10 years. Due to construction and other restrictions government officials forced us to move. We searched around for many areas but didn’t have any luck. We also had the problem of communicating with the homeless about where our new location would be. After talking to several people around the area we were able to find a new serving spot a few blocks down from our original spot. We had people stationed from our old spot to the new spot and were directing the homeless people. Its been about 4 months since we’ve now been in our new location and we’ve been trying to make the best of it.

Why did you choose to specifically help the homeless?

I believe that there comes a point in everyone’s life that they need a helping hand. This is small act every week really impacts the people we encounter.  Having volunteered with the organization for almost 4 years now, we’ve gotten to know the people we help out and their individual stories. A lot of homeless people are often treated as second class citizens because of preconceived notions and negative stigmas, at Project Downtown we treat people as people. Pot of vegetables

What woman has inspired you?

Ellen Degenerous, she’s always helping out and giving back to the community. Oh and let’s not forget her awesome dance moves!

What goals do you have for this project?

Our main goal is to provide comfort to these individuals. Yes, a meal once a week means one less meal they have to worry about but our main priority is to build relationships with these people. Homelessness often causes people to be alone. Many of them don’t communicate or socialize with their family and friends. After providing a warm meal for them every Friday afternoon, we stay around with the volunteers and talk to them.  Sometimes all these people need is company, someone to hear them out. And we are happy to be able to do that.

What advice would you give to other girls?

Never let anyone tell you that you are not capable of something just because you’re a girl. I have come across several people who have told me that I am not capable of something or should reconsider what I’m ding because it isn’t “lady-like”. I say use this as motivation, if you really want something you should not let anyone stop you from pursuing it.

How can others help with this project?

Anyone is welcome to come and volunteer at Project Downtown Miami, we go and serve every Friday at 6PM in downtown Miami. We have a facebook like page called Project Downtown Miami, where we post weekly updates and news on how to get involved, also you can contact me-Rabiya at projectdowntown.miami@gmail.com!

project downtown

Spreading kindness is contagious and hopefully you get inspired to volunteer and make a difference in your own neighborhood. Spending time to help others is like a natural cleansing for the soul. Go ahead, smile and make a positive change in the world. Tweet & Share