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Surviving the COVID-19 pandemic (a GoFundMe Campaign)

Posted on April 16, 2020 by Zein Al-Jundi, owner

The following is a copy of what I (Zein) wrote as the description of our GoFundMe Campaign so to survive COVID-19

CLICK TO PURCHASE GIFT CERTIFICATES  . GoFundMe Campaign

4/15/2020

I never thought I'd be in the position I am currently in nor I'd be doing this after 19 years of being in business.....19 years of fighting with every bit I have to keep The Arabic Bazaar, Zein's Dance Studio and all the other things that I do.....alive, well and kicking.......then COVID-19 comes around and in less than a month ALL of it is threatened with extinction (of sort)......

I've had our income slash by a good percentage before (with the economic crash of 2008-2009) but I have never had it (nor thought it is possible) to have it just simply cease to exist so abruptly and with no warning. I can honestly say, I have literally my breath taken away so to speak even typing this!  What do you do as a business owner when this just simply pops out of nowhere?  I know I am not alone in this but this is MY fight and I know for a fact, no one is at least as responsible to fight it as I am so here I am......

I didn't want to be here today.....I didn't want to do a GoFundMe......I didn't want to be asking anyone to bail me and the business out......I was happy doing what I was doing--quite often work 12-15 hours a day and sometimes 7 days a week......I was ok dealing with the aches and pains I coped with after being on my feet for long hours, teaching classes and doing whatever else I did to keep it all going.....I learned how to manage and I was just fine doing so.  I didn't make much money but I was fine with that too.....I made enough to pay all the bills, keep a roof over my head, live a blessed and good life and MOST IMPORTANTLY feel like I MADE A DIFFERENCE.....in all honesty, there were times when I questioned why I kept doing so for so many years-as there ARE and were easier ways (for me anyway) to make a living and more likely than otherwise much more comfortable living than I have.  That was always a much more complex question to ask of myself than one to be answered with a simple, clear cut or single layer answer.......but I do know and VERY clearly that what it all boil down to is this.......

The Arabic Bazaar, Zein's School of Bellydance, Zein's Travel Tours, Zein's music & dance shows and ALL that I have done since I have embarked on to this journey have NEVER been just a business, nor just a way to make a living......all this is-19 plus years of it have always been about (and fueled by) this passion I have for people, for my culture and for the simple concept of loving one another through getting to know one another and by doing so, get the chance to experience AND benefit from the beauty that each one of us carries within us and can create for the rest of the world to learn from, love and enjoy.......I wanted to create (mind you not so consciously really.....beauty of all is, is the fact that it has all been so organic growing) a Community that truly knows no boundaries and is simply pulled together by humanity, acceptance and yes, love vs any other factor......

Again, I've had doubts and wondered about the validity of any of it (when things were really hard) but, everytime I questioned what I was doing or whether I was succeeding in any of it, someone (without knowing any of what I was thinking.....and without me asking) would tell me how I've opened their eyes to something that they wouldn't have had happen otherwise.......or someone would tell me how my classes have become the safe place for them to come to when they don't feel comfortable in most places.......I would hear the giggles in the studio as I taught or see the best friends that have become after having joined the class for a bit of time.......I'd get a picture that someone sends of their home with one of my lamps and how it's added so much more beauty to it that they love going home.......I listen to someone who went to Morocco with me, telling me how the experience changed their life and how they will never look at life the same way again.......or hear how my songs were what she listened to when she was going thru chemo therapy thus always associates being alive with my music  (that one, I have yet to feel worthy of).......ALL of it makes me feel that it's all (the stress, the hard work.....etc) been so worth it.  

I know that I CAN (won't be easy but.....I can) take it all online and unshackle myself from many of the aspects associated with a brick and mortar business that are not so easy or positive but, it won't at all be the same as I won't have all of you nor you, me and all I bring, in the same capacity or even close to it--THAT IS EXACTLY what this GoFundMe is about.....it is to keep The Arabic Bazaar & Zein's School of Bellydance as a physical location for everyone to come to, to share, love, laugh, dance and add beauty and a healthier existence to their world.......COVID-19 has halted our income and shut us down......it sadly (and obviously) did not halt our overhead and bills! 

YOU all have become our community and today, I am asking you to hold us through this very difficult time so we.....I manage keeping it together and come out of the other side intact......

I am NOT asking for donation or handouts (God knows all this feels awful enough :( .....EVERY PENNY THAT EVERYONE CONTRIBUTES IS A GIFT CERTIFICATE PURCHASED TO THE ARABIC BAZAAR & ZEIN'S SCHOOL OF BELLYDANCE and CAN BE REDEEMED AFTER WE REOPEN or ON OUR WEBSITE www.TheArabicBazaar.com

I have been praying every day, every night for God to give me guidance as to what I need to do and every day I get more and more clear that I am NOT ready nor should be ready to quit 'the mission' part of my business just yet and just keep the 'way of making a living'.....today, I hope and pray that you come through for me and the business so I am able to keep going.  We are unique, have always been (I laugh to myself that it simply is because no one is crazy enough as I am to do what I am doing :) I know I have many supporters out there so I will wrap this (very long.....sorry) description by saying I hope and pray that I hear from all of you so I stay here, for all of you/us......

love to all and please stay safe, stay healthy and stay happy.....

Zein

****best way to help is DIRECTLY VIA THIS WEBSITE

CLICK TO PURCHASE GIFT CERTIFICATES 

****or you can SUPPORT US VIA OUR GoFundMe Campaign

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First Post

Posted on February 15, 2019 by Zein Al-Jundi, owner

This is the first Blog on our online store site......long in the making (the website that is :) and finally launched if you are reading this (YES!!! 'high five' someone for us/me pretty please :)  so here we go.....

We are The Arabic Bazaar.....and you are probably already know, we are direct importers of beautifully crafted goods from Syria, Egypt, Morocco, Turkey and beyond......but that's not near the full story!  yes, please read on.....

My name is Zein Al-Jundi.  I was born and raised in Syria (born in Homs, grew up in Damascus-the capital city). 

Ever since I can remember, I did two things--sing (dance/act too) and dream of becoming an architect.  And no, I am not talking about singing around our house in Damascus or just in front of my family and friends, I did so on the most prominent of theaters stage in and around Damascus and at times, spent more time in recording studios performing different things to be aired on Syria's (at the time only) TV and Radio stations than at home or school.  I sang, I danced and I acted not because of any ambitions to make anything out of it nor claim it as a career.....I simply did so because God gave me the gift of it all and, maybe with heavenly intervention, opportunities allowed me to do so in the public realm.   

Eventually, when I got to my late teen years, I decided it was time to hang that hat up and move on to more of what I had set out to do for myself in my future--become an architect (I have a magazine clippings of an interview someone did with me when in third grade and my answer to the question of 'what do you want to become when you grow up?' was 'an architect').......and yes, I DID indeed become an architect (attended the School of Architecture in Damascus for a bit then moved to the US and finished earned my degree from The University of Texas @ Austin).....

But life throws you curve balls that one needs to dodge......mine came in the shape of a car accident that put all my architecture aspirations on hold.  However 'On hold' (at times) comes with the beauty of room left in your life to fill with new and revisited ventures.......I went back to singing, I started teaching bellydance and eventually opened The Arabic Bazaar that became the nucleus for all I do and a small community center of sort for my Arab Culture--something I am so forever grateful for and honored by--and, in that sense, the store has never been just a store or a mean to make a living (trust me, there are far easier ways to make a living and if it was just that, I probably would have given it up a long time ago.....).  It has rather been the instrument via which I have been able to introduce anyone willing to receive, the beauty and multi facets of my culture and what The Arab World can offer (music, beautiful arts and crafts, travel destinations, dance, language course and more)!

And with the launch of our online store, I pray and hope that we continue to prosper/persevere and will be able to reach people in far away places we can't nor have been able to reach at our physical location so cheers to that!!!  

Warmly
Zein 

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