Darfur Fast for Life

We fast in solidarity with the hungry and starving in Darfur and for lasting peace in Sudan

Naheed Simjee

Naheed Simjee is a music supervisor and song consultant for feature films and documentaries. She co-founded the independent record label, Glacial Pace Recordings with Isaac Brock, the lead singer, guitarist and songwriter for the Seattle suburb indie rock band Modest Mouse. She also spends her time conducting extensive research for biopics.

Naheed has been traveling the world from a very early age. Her family moved to Toronto, Canada shortly after the commencement of the Indo-Pakistani War. She was the only family member born in North America. When she was six years old, Naheed went to live on her mother’s farm in India for the summer where she spent hours in amazement watching her relatives harvest sugar cane. At the age of sixteen while living in Southern California, Naheed wrote an essay that awarded her a Sister City Exchange Program Scholarship and she was appointed Goodwill Ambassador to the city of Anyang in South Korea.

Her passion of helping people, understanding foreign policy and the diversity of cultures in the world lead her to major and earn degrees in International Relations and Spanish from the University of Southern California. She also studied language in Sevilla, Spain and Tokyo, Japan.

She is dedicated to nature and animal conservation efforts and is currently developing a unique project to promote the awareness of endangered species. Naheed continues supporting organizations educating civil war refugee children forced from their homes in South and Central Asia. She truly believes making people feel welcome and accepted is the duty of all mankind.

Naheed is 32 and has residencies in Los Angeles, CA and Portland, OR.

Day 3

July 11, 2009 By: Admin Category: Naheed Simjee

It’s Friday night and I can hear the sound of sirens in the distance. I’m looking out onto the city from a relatively high point in Laurel Canyon and the view is spectacular. The city lights look like tiny fireflies and from up here, I feel a bit isolated. Even though it would have been easy to hang out with friends or family tonight, the past three days were such a commitment and test to my willingness and discipline that I felt like being alone, especially this evening. I am just finishing up a particularly long day and night of work and listening to music has really helped the day along. The Three Mile Pilot record “A Town We Once Knew” is very melancholic, ghostly and eerie and it was sort of a reflection of how I was feeling for majority of the day.

At around 5:00 PM I made a quick run to a friend’s recording studio with his pug who makes me smile. On the way back I got a sudden surge of energy and it was kind of startling because I had no idea where it came from. I felt wide awake for no apparent reason. My appearance wasn’t so inviting, though. I had puffy eyes, my muscles ached and my skin felt dry and I looked unfamiliar. I’m hoping for a good night’s rest and look forward to getting my body ready for a small but healthy meal in the morning so my body isn’t too surprised when it is fed.

The psychological effects of this fast are very obvious – it impacted my train of thought in different ways each day. The physical aspects made me feel useless. I though to myself at times, just have some tea I mean, it’s like water. But then I would just think about how I got through the past two days and pushed myself to go one more. Like many of the people who have participated and whose journal entries I was able to read, I had to remember this was not about me ‘succeeding’ but doing my part as a human who wants to see change in the world and an end to the crisis in Darfur. I thought about inspiring people, like Mahatma Gandhi and Aung San Suu Kyi whose passion and dedication to nonviolence are remembered by what they sacrificed for the welfare of humans – even though they both faced an injustice from the cruelty of humans.

This fast is very very difficult, but I believe it has been my duty to try my best to join the efforts and set an example.

Tomorrow morning I will pass the baton and look forward to hearing about the experiences of the next person. But furthermore, it will be another person like you and me spreading the message and continuing to make people aware of these horrid crimes against humanity.

Day 2

July 10, 2009 By: Gabriel Category: Naheed Simjee, Uncategorized

I can’t say there was anything easy about waking up this morning.  I mean, it was really rough on me.   When my alarm went off at 7:00 AM, I was confused as to what was going on.  I felt so fragile and I also had a hard time getting out of bed without feeling dizzy.  It was somewhere between feeling extremely hungover and waking up from a super dose of anesthesia.   I realized this was the first time I hadn’t eaten a single thing for over 24 hours.  It got to the point where I was second guessing if I was supposed to be drinking water or not.

I really didn’t know what to do to get my blood moving and to shake this bewilderment I was experiencing.  It was my boyfriend’s birthday today and when I called him, I found myself cutting the conversation short because I was so backwards and stumbling over my words.  I felt very discombobulated.  He is very encouraging but is also concerned because I am borderline anemic.

To get myself going, I ran in place for a bit and then jumped in the shower hoping that the water splashing down on me would make me feel a little bit more normal and awake.  It helped a bit, but when I had to walk outside, the sun felt extra bright and it was as though I was moving in slow motion.  It really hit me how sluggish I was when I interacted with the salesperson at the electronics store.  She was trying to explain to me why one product was better than the other and I found myself trying to concentrate on what she was saying, but none of it seemed to matter and truthfully, I just didn’t care.

I had a ton of things to do today and really wanted to be on top of my game.  The friends I work with asked me about five times if I was hungry and what I wanted to do for lunch, quickly followed by, “Oh, I forgot, you’re fasting.” The longer I stayed in one place, the more shaky and insane I would feel.  Then someone came in and said, “there’s pizza!” and I wanted to scream but didn’t have the energy.

I decided to look up the effects of short term food deprivation compared to those experiencing long term starvation.  It was frightening to think about the people that haven’t eaten food for over A MONTH, longer than any of us volunteering to fast could ever endure.  I looked at pictures of people who have died from complications due to starvation and others that were alive but suffering tremendously.  Organ failure.  Inability to fight disease.  Reproductive problems.  Depression.  That victims of starvation are often too weak to sense thirst so they become dehydrated.  Atrophy of the muscles.  Hysteria.  Sensitivity to noise.  All of a sudden, my fatigue and craving for anything disappeared.  I think I just became ill from the photos and disgusted by the fact that this is still going on right here on our planet.

I watched a video today called Darfurian Voices.  There were two quotes that I wanted to share and end this journal entry with.  To me, the voices of the people of Darfur represented the hope and patience of many who have suffered and witnessed this catastrophe. The quotes have been translated from Arabic:

A Darfurian man said

“Of course there is nothing impossible in the universe.”

A Darfurian woman said:

“With regards to the conflict, I’m not a politician or anything like that.  And I’m not well informed of all the relevant issues.  But my humble understanding is that the conflict is the result of injustice.  There is injustice and inequality and there is the marginalization of the people of Darfur.  Peace means security. Peace means stability. Peace is justice.  Without them, there is no peace.”

I am taking on my third day of fasting tomorrow to share the hope and desire for peace of the Darfurian people and to let as many people I know be reminded of what is going on.

Day 1

July 09, 2009 By: Admin Category: Naheed Simjee

The only type of fasting I have ever done involves giving up something in particular or fasting between certain hours.  I don’t think I have ever given up food completely for more than a day.  So needless to say, this three day fast will be a challenge and I’m hoping a wake up call to myself and those that have food readily available to them, freedom of choice and the ability to make a change.  I am thankful that my friend John Whitledge passed me the baton.

The morning started out relatively easy since I hit the ground running and was too busy to even think about food.  My usual morning routine involves going for a run, eating a piece of fruit and drinking a cup of tea or coffee.  But instead, I drank a large glass of water and went about my day.  Then I went out for an errand at around noon and drove through the fantastic smell of fresh warm tortillas lingering in the air.  This definitely made me think of food, but I had somewhere to be and it was only a momentary thought that quickly passed.

By about 2:00 this afternoon, I’m feeling low in energy and slightly moody.  I have mentally accepted the fact that I am not going to be eating, but it’s like my body is saying “what’s going on here?”

I like to try and understand the cause and effect of everything.   On physical and emotional change.  My 70 year old father insists that fasting once a week regularly is good for the body and soul.  He has become quite used to it.  Not me.  It’s close to 10:00 PM now and I am wanting to just go to sleep to combat my shakiness and inability to focus on one thing for too long…like this journal entry that I am trying to finish but I keep going off into a blank stare at my screen.

I am making a commitment to do this fast because it is important to me to reach anyone who is not fully aware of what is happening in Darfur.  It is not about my struggle but I do want to experience if for only three days, what the people in Darfur and the world are going through although I know I cannot even imagine what it is like.  I know that this is something I volunteered to do.  Unfortunately, those in Darfur and in refugee camps all over the world DON’T have that option.  I know the issue is not just the starvation, but the climbing death tolls, rapes and murders and so many other things that make you ask yourself “do humans really treat each other this way?”

I spent much of the day working alone and had various thoughts enter my mind. You may or may not be afraid of death.  It might not something you talk about often.  You might wonder how you are going to leave this earth, what will be the cause?  But I realized today that starving to death is not something that I ever feared because I have never been put in a situation where having food just wasn’t an option.   Even when you’re broke, you can find a way to eat some crappy fast food that will suffice your hunger.  There is food everywhere I look.  Even the homeless in the city have soup kitchen’s or shelters that will provide the basics.  I drove by hundreds of dining options today in such a small radius.  I tried to imagine what it must be like to have to wait for someone to distribute your rations.  To not know if there is even going to be a next ration.  I felt sadness and was reminded just how much the world we live in consumes and wastes while others are being denied their basic human rights.

Naheed Simjee Joins Darfur Fast for Life

July 08, 2009 By: Admin Category: Naheed Simjee