It was a typical Saturday morning. After feeding, dressing and playing with my kiddos, I took a brain break on Facebook. A friend posted a news article “Fire burns Eastside mosque: one arrested“. I clicked on the link. My heart sank deep into my chest.
I have connections to this mosque although I have never attended. During September and October, I was a substitute teacher at Odle Middle School in Bellevue, Washington. I built strong relationships with my students, many of whom attend this mosque with their families and/or are part of the Muslim community living near this mosque.
Second, I lived and worked in Dubai during the 2009-2010 school year at an all girls American school teaching World History to 9th & 10th grade students. Coincidentally, there was another Seattle native working at this school as a math teacher in the Middle School in the same building. We worked together and I enjoyed conversing with her on occasion. When I moved back to Seattle in 2014, I looked her up. She is still teaching and has kids now. I texted her upon learning about the fire at the Bellevue mosque. She replied and said, WOW! Thanks for your text. I just read the news. It was at this mosque where for three years she studied Islam while converting to Islam. I hated being the barer of such bad news. After exchanging text messages regarding the mosque, we made plans to reconnect since we had not seen one another for over a year (thanks to being busy working Moms)!
Last, the news article describing the details of the mosque burning in the wee hours on early Saturday morning included a link where people could go to donate money, an online fundraiser. On Saturday afternoon, the campaign had raised around $45,000 and checking back on Sunday, the amount was up to $150,000. Community members visited the mosque and many left balloons and flowers.
This sad and tragic news event has made me recognize the beauty in technology. It was through Facebook (social media) that I learned about the event. I immediately connected with my Muslim-American friends in the Seattle area through text messaging to process the event. I witnessed substantial generosity flowing to the mosque and Bellevue Muslim community through online news articles and observed donations pouring in through an online fundraising campaign that I imagine gave immediate hope. All of these tools represent our ability to use technology in a positive light.
*Images courtesy of Lindsey Wasson/The Seattle Times