On 9/11, we packed 1,500,000 meals

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September 11, 2001 changed the dynamics of the world in such a painful way. As the world confronts with the reality of a tragedy of such great magnitude and learns to live in its aftermath, people everywhere lost someone or lost something. Many lost loved ones, and many others lost confidence in their identity and safety, many lost compassion, and many lost hope. The effects of it is felt beyond American shores, some in more painful ways than others, and 17 years later, we are all still grieving, still healing, still trying to figure out how to move on, still rising.

I was 11 that day, looking at the tv screen and trying to understand the moving images on the screen and the traumatised responses. Tasting the reactions from my surrounding after, and seeing the changes it brought upon my people – so distant from the physical scene but so embroiled and intertwined. It felt confusing to see the religion I profess to be said as the reason behind such horror – it was not, and is still not, something I ever learnt in my religion.

As we figure out what to do with the tragedy, it is hopeful to see people not letting evil have the last word.

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9/11 Day strived to do just that – to transform a day of tragedy to one of the biggest day of service in the country, and organised mass meal packing in various parts of the country. It was an emotional experience, to be in community as we say prayers and have a moment of silence, and then to join hands to put our collective energy into packing meals for food insecure individuals. In just my shift alone, we packed more than 55,000 meals! It was my honour to have been a volunteer.

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Today, may we honour those whose lives were taken on Sept 11 2001. May we remember that for some people, the tragedy is still a daily lived reality. May we offer support and remembrance too to all those who have been harassed, tortured or killed in retaliation to those strikes. (Islamophobic attacks rise on this day so check in on your Muslim friends and help them feel safe!)

It is up to us, what we do with this pain and tragedy. It’s easy to be desensitized and to feel powerless. It’s easy to take things as they are and settle. We can do better. We can show up and make a change. We can take action.

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