Can you tell us about your individual work and the intersection of your interests?
Yousef is a pediatrician and Nadeah is an attorney. Those titles can be expanded to say Yousef practices humanitarian medicine and Nadeah human rights law- now the intersection is visible.. When we met, at the end of a Ramadan in 2007 at a potluck in the valley, we established pretty early on our common desire to travel the world, putting our skills to use for the least fortunate in remote under-served communities. Part selfish (get to travel), part selfless (serving others). After living across 3 continents in 3.5 years, we came back to where we met, SoCal, to start our family and become part of this community. I’m grateful to have gotten the opportunity to work at UMMA Community Clinic in South Los Angeles, a primary care clinic founded by Muslim Americans 20 years ago to offer high quality care to the primarily Latino and Black communities just blocks away from where the Rodney King riots occurred.
How do you maintain a balanced partnership that exists beyond your shared passion for human rights and international issues?
The other foundation was sharing a faith that we believe has a beautiful spiritual component, social justice message and implores us to put into action- not just keep theoretical. Besides our faith, we love to dance and find every opportunity to do so. Whether at a full moon party on the beach, another mixed couple wedding or in the kitchen with our 1yr old Amalie during a lazy Saturday breakfast.
How do you stay engaged with your work and with each other when it feels challenging or when you are fatigued?
Celebrating the victories. Looking back at old pictures of us on safari in Zimbabwe where I was helping handover a pediatric HIV practice from Doctors without Borders to the local ministry of health. Reading longing emails Nadeah sent to me from the Hague, where she was on the prosecution team against Charles Taylor- the first ever sitting head of state to be succesfully prosecuted for war crimes.
Finding like minded people here in Los Angeles. We’re hosting a series of community organizing workshops for Muslim Americans to learn how to reach partner communities to fight injustice.
What are the benefits to getting involved locally? Has it taught you anything about LA specifically? Has anything surprised you?
Think global, act local is a cliche for a reason- it’s empowering. By moving to South L.A. and being part of the fabric of the community, we are invested in seeing this community succeed. By attending a mosque in South LA, we befriend our black and latino brothers and sisters and share with each other our narratives and get advice on daycare in the area. As the metro line is being created, we talk with our neighbors about its effect and attend town halls to learn more and voice our opinion.