It seems like everything we hear about today is the COVID-19 pandemic, but one thing has been made clear: Center for Disease Control (CDC) now recommends wearing a face mask out in public. While N95 face masks are recommended for health care workers, we as part of the general public should all be wearing a type of hand sewn cloth face masks when running our essential errands outside.
Because Jezuba has been closely following new development surrounding COVID-19, and our volunteers have been working hard on producing handmade cloth face masks in the last few weeks. We donated our face masks to hospitals and medical centers in the Bay Area and Southern California, including El Camino Hospital, Adventist Health Glendale, and Kaiser. Today, we are offering these face masks for purchase by general public. As a nonprofit, our predominant goal is to #FlattenTheCurve, and we have priced these face masks to maximize protecting our community. Wearing face masks shows that you care about your community; if everyone wears a mask, we will all help slow down the spread of COVID-19.
Purchase your face mask today with free shipping, and we are donating one face for each one sold. To prevent hoarding and protect our community fairly, we are placing a limit of 7 face masks for each household. If you buy a face mask for a friend or loved one, and we will ship it to them free of charge. Our idea is to spread support and bolster love for our community.
If you can afford to donate, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to Jezuba, 501(c)(3) nonprofit. All donations will go toward acquiring materials for the masks, scaling up production, and distributing to our medical communities.
If we can show kindness to strangers and support one another during this time of need, we will come out as a stronger community. Be part of the solution!
Co-founder and Director, Jezuba
I want to call everyone to action in doing our part to help one another during these anxious times. The COVID-19 pandemic has driven individuals to stock up on much needed supplies. Yet more than ever, now is the time to be compassionate to each other. We need to share our resources, maintain our six feet distance, wash our hands diligently, and clean our surfaces.
As reported by CNN, the shortage in masks have forced many healthcare workers on the frontlines to risk their lives by opting for bandanas, reusing personal protection equipment (PPE), or not wearing any protective facial covering at all. I first heard about PPE shortages from Dr. Mike, a family medicine doctor, who went on a search for N95 masks to donate to healthcare professionals. However, he received only half of the product from exploitative individuals, revealing a practice where predatory people buy up stockpiles of supplies to make a profit during emergencies. But on the other side of the spectrum, the best in people truly come out. Many volunteers in the community are coming together to sew masks for healthcare workers to provide additional protection for N95s, so the masks can last longer.
I hope that in doing my part to help Jezuba distribute these hand-sewn face mask, I’m bolstering our community support for healthcare workers. They may not N95 face masks, but they can still provide some protection for our community and help flatten the curve. Please consider wearing a face mask when you leave your home for essential errands.
We encourage you to contact us if your community needs face mask donations. If you are able to donate, please consider donating to Jezuba. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, your tax-deductible donation will be used to acquire materials for the face masks, scale up production, and distribute them to our medical communities and the general public.
Content Strategy Intern
credit: National Nurses United
Amid our new reality of shelter in place, our family enjoys watching thought provoking movies and documentaries. Just this past evening, we discovered “Freedom Writers” starring Hilary Swank while perusing Netflix - an easy decision given our admiration for the actress. “Freedom Writers” tells the story of how an inexperienced teacher motivated and inspired at-risk students, who were struggling with issues such drugs, gang violence, poverty, and homelessness, in a racially divided community in Long Beach, CA. Wanting to make sure that this story was not another Hollywood’s fairy tale, I did some research into the real Erin Gruwell. What I found was that her real-life story was even more incredible than the version portrayed by Swank.
Erin Gruwell believed that her students deserved better. She knew that for her teachings to resonate, she first needed to find a way to relate and to connect with her students. Only then, can real human connection and empathy can be transformative. Gruwell had hoped that racial segregation in schools ceased to exist forty years after the Supreme Court’s ruling on Brown v. Board of Education, but the reality at Wilson High School was far from it. Yet instead of giving up on her school’s broken system, she had the courage and confidence to take action into her own hands.
During one class, her students passed around a racist caricature of one of their classmates. Visibly upset, Gruwell reprimanded her class, calling out that the imagery was akin to Nazi propaganda. However, she quickly discovered that her students, though having lived through gun violence themselves, had never heard of the Holocaust. Gruwell changed her curriculum, making tolerance the core of her teaching. Her students read “The Diary of Anne Frank” and “Zlata’s Diary.” Guest speakers such as Miep Gies, the Dutch woman who hid Anne Frank and her family, were invited to speak. Gruwell took her students on field trips to museums and dinners with special guests. It’s significant to note that though she had no budget from the school for such extracurricular excursions, she moonlighted as a concierge and sold lingerie to fund these experiences herself, bringing the world outside of their racially divided school to her class. Her students find their own voice and learned empathy, forming a bridge to one another despite their differences and friendships where there was once animosity.
In 1999, Gruwell’s and her students’ work were compiled and published as “The Freedom Writers Diary.” The title pays homage to 1960s civil rights group, The Freedom Riders. The book was a New York Times bestseller, and the proceeds from book sales funded college scholarships for many of the original Freedom Writers.
The unforgettable lesson I learned from Erin Gruwell and Elizabeth Freeman (the star of our last blog post) is that fighting for change is only the first step. History has shown that changing laws does not change beliefs. We must not only hold ourselves accountable for the present, but to push our society forward for the future.
These women have inspired me to follow in their footsteps. Teaching our younger generations can be the movement for exponential growth and positive change for our future. And that, is what I hope to do through Jezuba.
Co-founder and Director, Jezuba
credit: The Freedom Writers Diary
Remember to be kind. If you're part of an industry which allows you to work from home with a steady income still flowing through, reach out to those whose jobs may be compromised during this time to see how you can help. Support small businesses, whether it may be restaurants or independent apparel brands - and especially support health workers.
Remember to not give into xenophobia and racism. Vitriolic behavior is more ubiquitous than normal, no doubt sparked by the mounting uncertainty and fear around Covid19. Social distancing is meant to contain the transmission spread, not used as an excuse to dehumanize. Our compassion & empathy is needed now, more than ever.
As a Chinese-American woman, I have already experienced and seen forms of racism directed at the Chinese on social media and, more egregiously, in the White House. But I have also seen many words of encouragement and reminders to be kinder, to put aside our differences, to support one another. Most of all, I have found that doing my part to help my community has made me feel infinitely more resilient than any sort of annoyed retaliation to banal racist commentary.
In these times of need, giving back has never made me feel more uplifted and connected to my community.
credit: Iris Hsu
Another one of the many successful women I'd like to celebrate is Elizabeth Freeman. Born into slavery around 1744 as “Mum Bett”, she would later bravely challenge the newly adopted Massachusetts State Constitution in 1781 to win her freedom.
Bett could not read or write, but she was clever and strategic. It was reported that Bett’s mistress, Mrs. Ashley, treated her slaves with extreme cruelty. Mrs. Ashley attempted to strike Bett’s sister with a heated kitchen shovel, but Bett protected her by blocking the blow, resulting in a serious wound on her arm that never properly healed. Yet instead of covering her arm, Bett wore her scar as evidence of her mistreatment.
Colonel Ashley, Bett's master and an affluent judge, moderated the local committee that wrote the Sheffield Declaration in 1773. The declaration stated that “mankind in a state of nature are equal, free, and independent of each other, and have a right to the undisturbed enjoyment of their lives, their liberty and property.” The same language was used in the United States Declaration of Independence of 1776 and in the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780. Evidence suggests that Bett overheard these ideas at events Colonel Ashley held in his home and at public square readings. Turning to Theodore Sedgwick, a prominent attorney who helped draft the Sheffield Declaration with Colonel Ashley, Bett, along with an enslaved man named Brom, instigated the process of fighting for their freedom. Historians note that Sedgwick, along with many of the lawyers in the area, tested this case to determine if slavery was constitutional under the new Massachusetts Constitution.
Once she gained her freedom, Mum Bett changed her name to Elizabeth Freeman. Colonel Ashley proffered her on multiple occasions to return to his home as a paid servant, all which she declined. She instead accepted employment as a paid domestic worker in Theodore Sedgwick’s household, and later, became a prominent healer, midwife, and nurse. After 20 years, Freeman bought her own house where she lived with her children. Elizabeth “Mum Bett” Freeman died in 1829 at the age of 85, and was buried in the Sedgwick family plot in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, as the only non-Sedgwick buried in the “inner circle” of the family plot.
While Freeman's birth into slavery was not her choice, her tenacity changed the course of her fate. Freeman's abolition became a beacon of hope for other enslaved blacks, begetting a group of “freedom suits” that ultimately lead the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to outlaw slavery in their state. Throughout history, women like Elizabeth Freedom exemplify fortune favoring the bold.
Our determination and action can change the fortune of those in need. Education is an essential foundation for children's growth, and the electricity from solar LED lamps serve as an important tool for school children in an off-grid rural community in Burma. Support our campaign to provide solar LED lamps to children in need.
A statue of Elizabeth Freeman - National Museum of African American History
This Women’s History Month, I want to recognize women who took chances and lived by their convictions. As a woman of action, I am inspired by role models who fearlessly took calculated risks. Rather than waiting for the world to be changed for them, these women took matters into their own hands. These particular women may not be the most well known, but they are truly role models who serve as an inspiration for the next generation of women.
One woman who has personally stood out to me is Mae Jemison, whom I first learned about from her TED talk, Teach Arts and Sciences Together. Her talk opened my eyes to the fact that the separation of science and arts is illusory, explaining that “science provides an understanding of a universal experience, and arts provide a universal understanding of a personal experience.” The two subjects at hand indeed have more kinship than dichotomy. With this sense of clarity, it’s no doubt that Mae’s accomplishments are practically innumerable. Because she dared to follow her dreams, she shattered proverbial glass ceilings as she excelled as an author, dancer, engineer, physician, NASA astronaut, and entrepreneur. She boldly used the platform she gained from becoming the first black female astronaut to travel into space to speak out against unacceptable disparities between the quality of healthcare in the United States and third world nations.
Mae’s achievements inspired me to use my platform on Jezuba to bring solar LED technology to off-grid communities in rural Burma. Every purchase of Little Sun solar LED lamp from Jezuba will help us donate the same solar LED lamp to a child in need. Together, we can light up the world with solar technology.
Stay tuned for more women we will be recognizing this historic month!
Co-founder and Director, Jezuba
Jemison in July 1992
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” - Martin Luther King Jr.
To many of us, Martin Luther King Jr. was a beacon of light in the dark. Dr. King connected people through the Civil Rights Movement and brought them together to fight for good.
By now, we’re all aware of the most disastrous threat to our planet: climate change. When we learned about this looming topic in eight grade science, we were told that we could reduce our own carbon footprint and make a difference by simply changing our habits. Yet personally, I felt that there was more I could be doing…. In order to make a bigger and more lasting impact, I know we must go beyond our own individual lives.
I attended a solar workshop hosted by Little Sun Foundation on Monday January 20th (MLK Day), and it opened my eyes to an opportunity of making a difference in both my life and as well as someone else's. Not only could we provide a literal light to an off-grid community in Burma (Myanmar), but we could also bring another form of light: hope. Our community has already begun to discuss plans for solar workshops at local elementary schools, middle schools, and community centers.
Jezuba’s goal this year is to raise funds to replace 3,800 kerosene lamps with solar LED lamps for school children in Myanmar. Through our love for helping others to fight, rather than hate, Jezuba and Little Sun Foundation will help tackle the world climate issue and poverty together.
Please join us in our effort and contact us to host a solar workshop in your community. It will give us an opportunity to spread hope and empower us to make a positive impact on our future and environment.
High School Intern
When I first met Rebecca five years ago at my last company where we worked, there was an almost instantaneous connection. I knew right off the bat that she was capable, smart, dependable, and most of all - kind. Within a couple weeks, I was comfortable enough sit down with her and engage in deep conversation in a matter of minutes. Our topics covered almost everything: women's rights, personal relationships, social responsibility, dark chocolate... it's not every day I find someone I connect with on such a meaningful level.
Today, I consider Rebecca one of my closest lifelong friends, a mentor whom I could always admire and look up to, and a partner at Jezuba whom I am proud to work with. Rebecca has not only inspired me to think creatively of ways I can give back and to step out of my comfort zone, but she has also consistently believed in me - especially during times when I didn't have faith in myself.
I've always believed that the best things in life are not seen, but felt. Rebecca's continuous faith in me was enough to propel me into becoming a stronger, more resilient, and more compassionate person - even in the worst circumstances when it was the hardest to feel empathy. My friendship with Rebecca has continued to empower me to this day, and I have no doubt it will continue to do so for the rest of our lives. Though we may just be two individuals on this planet of 7 billion, I believe that spreading this sort of faith and compassion, whether it's towards one person or a hundred, can have a much more significant impact that we think. With that sentiment, I too hope to make such a lasting impact on another person's life, whether it's through a fast friendship or our work at Jezuba.
"Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared."
Meditation may have deep roots in Buddhism, but the practice itself is not exotic nor spiritually based. Western research has shown that meditation can be quite effective in treating chronic pain and reducing stress, anxiety and depression. See the links to Kaiser, Psychology Today, and New York Times for more information.
Meditating did not come easy for me (nor I'm sure, for most beginners). I can meditate for moments at a time, then before I realize it, my mind has already wandered off or begun to plan out my day. Sometimes, the anxiety of knowing so many things are left undone, I can no longer quiet my mind to continue my meditation.
A friend invited me along to try a guided meditation class with sound bath, and to my surprise, I found the experience effortless and relaxing. The mesmerizing sounds of singing Tibetan bowls easily put me in a state of deep relaxation. Instead of the usual building the “to-do” list in my mind, I managed to let go of my thoughts as I found myself following the soothing vibrations. For what felt like the first time in forever, my mind was in a state of calm and peace.
I knew almost right away that I wanted to share the benefits of my experience and to introduce Sabrina Huang, the class instructor, to Jezuba’s community. For Sabrina, sound therapy fundamentally changed her life for the better and spawned her passion to spread the benefits to others.
Through Jezuba's and Sabrina's collaboration, we hope you can join us on Saturday February 29th from 2:30PM to 6PM for a guided meditation class with sound bath. 100% of the net proceeds will go toward replacing hazardous kerosene lamps with solar LED lamps for children living in off-grid rural communities.
I'm absolutely thrilled to be part of this collaboration, which hopes to benefit both our community here in the Bay as well as the community in Burma. Let’s make the world a little brighter with good karma.
Thank you, Sabrina for your generosity. Please join us on Saturday February 29th!
Co-founder and Director, Jezuba
The essence of entrepreneurship is taking a new approach to an age-old problem. It requires us to reassess continually the problem at hand, collaborate to speed up our learning, and pivot as needed to get to the right solution in a timely manner.
We first collaborated with Empower Generation (EG) as they embarked on the Burma (Myanmar) pilot program funded partly by D-Prize. Please see the full report of the pilot program attached below. Through that collaboration, we learned that while the Myanmar government was rolling out its National Electrification Plan (NEP) to bring national and off-grid energy to 7.2 million homes by 2030, this process was lengthy, and many rural regions would still have to wait for over ten years to benefit. That would mean ten more years of environmentally hazardous kerosene lamps for school children in rural Myanmar.
As such, for 2020, Jezuba is focusing on partnering with local Burmese organizations such as the Thabarwa Center (TC), a Buddhist community organization with headquarters south of Yangon in Thanlyin, to solve the last-mile distribution issues to access rural areas. Also, through our partnership with EG, we learned that we have to steer people’s minds and hearts from long-held beliefs toward solar energy products and their efficiency. As such, we are raising awareness on sustainable solutions to global climate issues through solar workshops led by our young interns in California and Yangon, Burma. As we have learned from organizations like Little Sun that simple lamp donations distort markets and maintain countries in aid dependency, we are implementing a market-based trade approach. We are establishing a trading market for artisans’ goods from Burma to sell in the US in exchange for solar LED lamps for school children.
We will accomplish our goals by building unity in a grassroots community around art, crafts, and food while empowering the next generation with social impact entrepreneurship. The missing piece is your donation as seed investment.
Please join us with your support!
Co-founder and Director, Jezuba