Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Thank you to our donors

I wanted to take a moment to thank our many generous donors who have made this Foundation possible. From the unidentifiable cash in the box at Jasmine’s memorial to the checks that pour in every week, the board members of JUSTICE are so grateful to all of you. Our plans to bring fire safety to communities around the world would be impossible without sufficient funding. As we make JUSTICE a global campaign, we are thankful to each of you who believed in our mission enough to contribute in the very first months of our existence.

A few days ago, we received news of a very generous donation that has allowed us to rethink the scope of our goals. After hearing Jasmine’s story and reading about JUSTICE on our website, Helen Rosburg pledged to make a donation of $10,000. We are so grateful to Mrs. Rosburg for her tremendous generosity and dedication to fire safety.

We are in the process of compiling a list of all those who attended Jasmine’s memorial and all of you who have donated to JUSTICE. In all of the rush to get the foundation up and running, we have not paid sufficient tribute to our donors. You all mean a lot to us, and we hope you accept our sincere thank you.

Finally, all donors will receive a card in the mail that will encourage you to sign up for our mailing list so that we can keep you informed about JUSTICE’s new campaigns.

Zoe Friedland
Co-treasurer of the Jasmine Jahanshahi Fire Safety Foundation

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day In The Park

Today was Memorial Day, a day to remember the loved ones who left our world, and for that reason, I went to the Memorial Park to visit with Jasmine. My heart was very heavy as I approached the entrance to the park, but I suddenly found myself smiling as I saw the scene ahead of me. It was only 8:30AM, but the park was already buzzing with a crowd. There were flags waving in the cool morning breeze, and colorful flowers at all the grave stones. In anticipation of the Memorial Day ceremony, a large tent was raised in middle of the park and there was beautiful Jazz music playing through the loud speakers. Wise men and women with white hair came in, parked their cars, paid respect to their loved ones and then quietly walked hand in hand towards the tent. The park was blissful, tranquil and restful, a place to stroll for an hour and wonder about the meaning of life and death and to listen to the whispers of the residents of the park...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Fire! What to Watch For When Renting a Paris Apartment

Paris is an old city with old water pipes and – in still too many apartments for rent or occupied by their owners – with old electric wiring. As a result, water damages and fires are constant. Although it won’t be mandatory to install smoke detectors in French homes for another five years (cf.law #2010-238 of March 9th, 2010), landlords of furnished apartments should take the initiative to install these ceiling detectors as soon as possible.

Numbers are horrendous! In France, a fire due to domestic causes happens every two minutes. One fire in 4 is due to electrical deficiency; one in 6 is due to smokers (smoking in bed, emptying an ashtray too soon, etc.); one in 8 happens in the kitchen.

Because of negligence, 250 000 residences a year are damaged, 10 000 inhabitants are injured, some 3 000 are disabled, and 800 are killed.

Any responsible adult, for the well-being of his family, should see that a detector is fixed on the ceiling of both the living room and in the kitchen of his home. Theses fixtures are readily available in all department stores.

But, most of all, if you rent and entrust your apartment to an expatriate, you should think of protecting this person, and your flat, for you don’t know his/her habits. When I lived in the United States, I remember that in most homes all the lights were on, even when one would go out for a while. Yet, it is when too many lights and electrical elements are on all together that a fire can start in a home lacking sufficient electrical power.

So beware, protect your tenant (you would not want to have to call his/her family), and make sure your furnished apartment stays so!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

DSOA Senior Award Ceremony-Jasmine's Scholarship

Last night we attended the Senior Award Ceremony, in Meyer Hall, at Dreyfoos School of Art, to present Jasmine’s Scholarship to a young talented graduating student from the Piano Department. Ms. Pat Montesino gave a tearful introduction to Jasmine’s passing, followed by Reza saying a few words and handing off the scholarship. As Reza descended the stairs, there was a long and loud applause from the audience, the graduating students as well as their parents, as if they all wanted to reach us through their claps ; to tell us how much they feel our pain but they are also grateful that Jasmine continues to help her friends from her ashes.

"Human beings are members of a whole,

in creation of one essence and soul.

If one member is afflicated with pain,

other members uneasy will remain.

If you have no sympathy for human pain,

the name of human you cannot retain."

-The Persian Poet-Saadi

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Trip to Paris-Part Three

“Happiness is always a by-product.
It is probably a matter of temperament
And for anything I know it may
Be granular. But it is not something
That can be demanded from life,
And if you are not happy, you had
Better stop worrying about it and
See what treasures you can pluck
From your own brunt of unhappiness”.
-Robertson Davis

The J.U.S.T.I.C.E. movement that started only a few days after Jasmine’s untimely death was the only way our family and friends and all Jasmine’s friends and their families could constructively deal with the sadness, pain and unhappiness that we all feel. And because of the deep, dark sadness we all feel, a masterpiece of love was created, bright as sun, as our offering to Jasmine’s incomplete cycle of life. I look at this movement as an art. This movement to me sounds as soothing as any of the Chopin’s sonatas and as masterful as any of the Michael Angelo’s paintings. This foundation is a memorial to Jasmine and each and every one of you are invited to join in and by helping others, heal and shield yourself from injustices around the world.

People often ask how you could accomplish so much in such short period of your stay in Paris. What no one knows is that legislative changes is France are happening because of likes, Megan Clement in Berkeley, California, who started the letter writing campaign and thousands of followers who sent letters to mayor’s office. That without the help of Zoe and her parents, Sarah and her parents, Tavakoli ,his family and his powerful website and hundreds of Jasmine’s friends and their parents who started, funded and supported such impressive foundation, we could not be taken sincerely in our high level meetings in Paris. That without the unconditional and spiritual and undivided support and loves of our families and friends, we would not have the energy or desire to survive this tragedy. The word “thank you” is meaningless compared to what each and every one of you has done for us, but I hope that the satisfaction you get to know that the Justice is being served gives you the positive power of the healing and leaves Jasmine in Peace, smiling back at us.

WONDERFUL NEWS-On our last day in Paris, we were informed that the following Scholarships have been established as “The Jasmine Jahanshahi Scholarship Award”:

1) University of California Study Aboard Program-Two scholarship awards in the amount of $2500.00 each will be made available yearly, starting in the 2011-12 academic year to students who have been accepted to a semester or yearlong immersion program of the UCEAP.

2) Berkeley Program for Study Aboard-Two scholarships in the amount of $2500.00 each will be available for the spring 2012 program to students of University of California, Berkeley, accepted to Berkeley Program for study aboard program.

3) More scholorships are being considered by Sceinces Po. We are also very thankful to the president of Sciences Po to have accepted to link our website to Sceinces Po main website.

“To truly understand a country-its social tensions, linguistic subtleties, culture, one must have a firsthand account; one must spend a significant amount of time in that country.”
-Jasmine Jahanshahi

Monday, May 23, 2011

Trip to Paris-Part Two

Reza offering a smoke detector to the President of Sciences Po

Chance and chance alone has a message for us. Everything that occurs out of necessity, everything expected, repeated day in and out, is mute. Only chance can speak to us. We read its message like gypsies read the images made by coffee grounds at the bottom of the cup”.
-Milan Kundera

The University of Science Po with aid of one of Jasmine’s classmates, Ashley Kingham, arranged for students gathering at a café across from the university where many of Jasmine’s friends joined us in a very emotional evening of tears and laughter. That evening, we distributed among the students, free smoke detectors with 10 years batteries, T-shirts, educational booklets and we spoke in length about how the students should be more proactive about their safety and that it is natural that they demand that from their local officials (see the attached pictures of the event).

I distinctly remember one of the students, Natassia Miller, who is from Columbia University participating in study aboard program at the Sciences Po. She was one of the students who participated in Jasmine and Louise memorial arranged by the school and she is the one who has been asking“What are we going to do about Fire safety in Paris?” Of course, it was easy to understand why she is asking this question, when we found out that her mother, Soraya Figueiredo, sent her daughter a Fire Escape Ladder from Florida, after she came to Paris to help Natassia move to her apartment in sixth floor, which was also facing the court yard, and who was horrified at the thought that her daughter has no chance of escape in case of fire.

Hearing stories like that, made us feel blissful, knowing that our world will be a better place to live, when the likes of Natassia Miller and Sarah Blanc and Zoe Friedland and hundreds of other courageous, compassionate young students will be the future leaders of our planet.

From left to right, top to bottom:

1. Lighting a Candle at Notre Dame

2. Distribution of Smoke Detectors to the Victim's Association of the 20th District

3. Displaced tenants of The Labrynith City

4. Displaced tenants of the Labrynith City at the accident site

5. Jasmine's professors at the cafe

6. Displaced tenants of The Labyrinth City

7. Students and professors at the cafe

8. Typical Apartment Buildings in Paris

9. Jasmine's friends in our apartment

10. Jasmine's friends in the cafe

11. Distribution of the smoke detectors at the City Hall

12. Distribution of the smoke detectors to residents of 20th District

13. Clothing collection center for the victims of the fire

We would like to take this opportunity and thank Reiner Wolf and his company, DHL, for shipping the smoke detectors to Paris, for free. We love you Reiner and Bahareh Jan. We are also forever grateful to my cousin, Kambiz and his wife, Espano. They were there for Jasmine when she moved to Paris and they immediately stepped in as our representatives, dealing with embassy, school and police officials, the entire month that we were in Florida and the news of Jasmine reached us at home. We love you two.

“The last movement of the Beethoven’s last quarter is based on the following two motifs:

Must it be? It must be! It must be!

Beethoven introduced the movement with a phrase, which is commonly translated as ‘The difficult resolution’ which may be construed as a ‘heavy’ or ‘weighty resolution’. Necessity, weight, and value are three concepts inextricably bound: only necessity is heavy, and only what is heavy has value.”
-Milan Kundera

Friday, May 20, 2011

Trip to Paris-Part One

Our family travelled to Paris, our hearts laden with grief, yet united in our mission to make sure that by shedding light on Jasmine’s untimely death, we build a safer world for her friends whom she cherished all her life. We spent a very busy week in Paris, crammed with meetings with City and college officials, fueled with an urgent desire to find out whom or what caused the fire in apartment building that eventually resulted in death of Jasmine and her other three friends, two other friends with severe injuries and caused many families to be destitute as they lost their homes and belongings.

Along the way, we met many wonderful people, grief stricken and shocked, ready to help us in any which way they could. We would like to express our gratitude to the president of Science Po, Mr. Richard Descoings, for his hospitality and his staff, to name a few, Mr. Peter Gumbell, Director of the American Studies, Mr. Frances Verilland, Vice President of International Affairs and professor Eloid Nowinski who accompanied us in many meetings and who helped us understand the intricacies of French policies, history and City planning of Paris. We would like to thank US Embassy in Paris, especially Mr. Ed Gallegher, who not only stayed in close contact with us during the past difficult month, but also facilitated meetings with the Mayor office, the Police and Fire Department. . Of course, Jasmine’s friends-so many of them, educated, and compassionate- visited and surrounded us like butterflies, they laughed and cried with us and by sharing their fun memories took away our pain, since we realized that Jasmine truly loved her stay in Paris and she was always in company of good friends.

The two other individuals whom we had a pleasure to know better and to spend a great deal of time together were Mr. Christopher Newfield, Director of UC Education aboard Program in Paris and Mrs. Shelby Ocana, Program Administrator for UC Study Center in Paris. They are developing a program and releasing funds to assemble “jasmine Safety Kit” which will be provided to every University of California student who will study in France. The Jasmine Safety Kit will include a smoke detector, a personal Fire extinguisher, a safety ladder and educational booklet as what to do in case of fire.

Paris is a beautiful city with very old buildings. It did not take us long to realize that most apartment buildings have only one narrow stairway to exit the building, that there is not a mandatory law to install smoke detectors and Fire Extinguishers in the old privately owned buildings, and that many apartments face small courtyards in the back, where no one can access in case of the fire. There are multiple fires in Paris every day, and yet, a little has been done to provide early detection to residents of the buildings. The healing part of the trip was that everyone we met unanimously agreed that changes are long due to improve the fire safety in France and that there was a movement-a social awareness- visible wherever we went, due to the April 14th fire that involved so many bright and international students, including our beloved Jasmine.

The Mayor’s office met with us twice. On our first visit, we met Mayor Fredrique Calandre (a graduate of Science Po and elected only three years ago) and her assistant Mr. Silvester Pirot. On the follow-up visit, we met her office manager Mr. Sebastian Roy and Luthenat Galot from the Fire Department. The important results of the above meetings are as follows:

1) In upcoming June Parliamentary meeting, one of the members, Ms. Hofman Rispal, is going to discuss the urgency of installing smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in all the buildings, now, and not waiting till year 2015-2016. This law will apply to France as a country!
2) The 20th district is planning to start a fire safety education program in the elementary schools. The material for this program will be provided by an association called “Malaika” which was established when a fire in their neighborhood (13th District) killed 25 people mostly children.
3) The Fire Department with the aid of mayor’s office will identify a building in similar condition as the building that took Jasmine’s life and our foundation will outfit that building with fire safety equipment in memory of Jasmine.
4) Our website will be linked to the 20th District City hall website to assist with promoting fire safety.

On our next blog we will share stories and post pictures of our separate gathering with the Science Po students and the residents of The Labyrinth City where we distributed the 100 smoke detectors that we took with us to Paris. Till then stay safe and report to us the buildings that you find deficient in Fire Safety.

Go to part two.

Check out our website!

Hello everybody,

Within days of receiving the heartbreaking news about Jasmine, we received an e-mail from Beverlyn and Ahmad Tavakoly, owners of CompuSource.net, offering us their services to create and host our website for JUSTICE. We got a fantastic domain name, FireSafetyFoundation.org, and CompuSource set us up with a talented and patient designer, Mario Guiterrez, who helped make our vision a reality. We cannot thank them enough, and we are really excited to share our website with everybody who has expressed an interest in JUSTICE.

The website should give you a better understanding of the goals of JUSTICE, as well as how we plan to pursue those goals and how you can help. There will also be details about how to donate and order t-shirts, which are, by the way, much softer this time. We will continue to update the website with content from our projects and news articles. We will also continue to update the Get Involved section with applications and material so you can start a JUSTICE chapter at your school or university. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to utilize the Contact Us section of the page, as well as join our Facebook group or newsletter. I can’t wait to see what we can do!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What we're bringing to Paris

As many of you already know, Jasmine's family is in Paris this week on a mission for all of us. They are taking your positive energy and support and they are already turning it into better fire safety regulations for all people in Paris. As we have already said, Jasmine would not accept a world where one's chances of surviving a fire are not equal across the board, but rather dictated by privileges and provisions. With affordable access to innovative technology, there is no excuse to deprive anyone of protection from a fire.
Thanks to Campus Firewatch, we already have 100 smoke detectors with 10-year batteries that we will distribute to students at Sciences Po, Sorbonne, and residents of the Menilmontant neighborhood. We also identified an unfortified building for which we will order the appropriate expandable fire escapes with the help of your donations. Building-by-building, we will ensure that all people have access to a safe escape from fires.
On a final note, we have not forgotten all of you who have offered your relentless support and interest in helping further with this organization. As soon as we have our website finalized, we will have all of the information on how you can spread JUSTICE's mission to your schools and communities.

Til then, here's one of my favorites:

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Dear Reza, Nazie & Mrs. Kaveh

We may never be able to comprehend the agony that you must feel, but we do share your pain and sorrow. We can feel it both when we are with you and when we are not. Even though you have lost one of your most precious treasures, you must cherish the beautiful memories that Jasmine has left for you. As we all know, Jasmine lived her life with no regrets, and she would want the same for all of you. You must fulfill her desires and live a wonderful life. Hopefully time will help to heal the pain that is left with her passing.

D. & S. Moslemian

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Jasmine My Dream Girl

Being an engineer, I was never any communicator to speak of; most of my writing have been brief and utilitarian.

However in this tragic juncture I must seek every avenue and employ every tool to help me bear some of this indescribable suffering and pain. Jasmine’s sudden departure from my physical life has left me in a tortuous unchartered water. She is my dream come through. Jasmine is my editor, critic, and advisor. She is alway illuminating and untangling my understanding of social, economic and religions differences with her passionate lengthy discussions with me. I am always looking forward to be challenged by a young intellect, who is free of any religious and or nationalistic baggage and bias. I will greatly miss her. I want to thank all jasmine’s friends and my family allover the world in advance for participating in this Blog. The only way I could keep my aspiration to survive is to convert my anger to a positive energy by concentrating on promotion of Jasmine’s none for profit Fire Safety Foundation, and keep her legacy alive by trying to change our planet by saving one life at a time.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Apartment Fire in Paris

Friday April 15th, 2011 was going to be an ordinary day. I was at work when I received a phone call from The Us Embassy informing me that my precious 20 years old daughter, Jasmine, along with four of her friends from Science Po and Sorbonne Universities were victims of an apartment fire in Paris. She had died the night before jumping out of a fourth floor window to escape the fire. At that very moment I realized that my life can never be the same. Anything I have done and accomplished to that day was going to be insignificant compared to what I had to achieve now. (Which was to keep her name alive in order to be able to go through life for the sake of my family and my son.) Not only I had to learn to live with the grief and pain of loss of a child but I also had to make sure that her senseless death will not go unnoticed, that her beautiful existence will not disappear without leaving a mark. A few days later, I went to the Face book and solicited help from friends and families to come up with ways to prevent this tragedy from happening to others. Jasmine’s friends and our friends and families who were as grief-stricken as we were, responded overwhelmingly to my call and in no time The Jasmine Fire Safety Foundation was established to help educate students around the world the importance of Fire Safe Housing. The foundation aims to provide Fire detectors, fire safety ladders, and other necessary Fire Safety Equipments to low income families in addition to improving public awareness in hope of saving innocent lives.
We are going to Paris on May 14th for a week to say farewell to our beloved Jasmine. We are using this opportunity to get together with some of Jasmine’s friends and classmates at the fire site to discuss how to prevent such a tragedy from happening again. We will have some educational pamphlet and smoke detectors to distribute. If anyone is interested to help with the event or has ideas as how to be more effective in reaching our goal of saving lives thru prevention and education please contact us at my email ndjahanshahi@gmail.com . Our website www.FireSafetyFoundation.org will be up and running in a month and you can contact us via website by mid June.