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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org!
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.