I am co-owner of Kefa Cafe.
How has your life changed since the community has been impacted by Coronavirus?
For us, the biggest impact has been lack of contact with our community. The way we run our business isn’t just to grab lots of money. Our purpose is to have a space for people to share whatever is going on in their lives. People come and talk. Not having that is the hardest.
Are you working more or less?
Lots less. I only go to the store once a week, because it doesn’t make sense for the two of us -- my sister and I -- to stay there. My sister is at the shop four hours a day. I’m working more on applying for grants and things like that. That’s what I’ve been doing. This past Saturday we did make 60 sandwiches for the homeless shelter.
What are you most afraid of?
I’m worried that things like wearing masks will become the new normal. If we keep going the way we’re going, I’m worried that people could lose freedom and individual rights. And I think this poses a lot of questions about what we value in society. It makes you wonder: what are we really doing? How are we going to change this? And how will the lives of people who are just trying to live day to day change? When I think about the unknowns, that’s what scares me the most.
What are you most hopeful for?
My hope out of this is that each one of us starts looking at our priorities and asks what is important in life. I hope we start caring for each other more. I’m not just talking about in your circle or among your family, but that we all starting caring for each other more as friends and neighbors.
What has been the most challenging part of this experience for you?
Trying to figure out the unknown. Are we going to be able to keep the shop? I don’t know. Are we going to be able to stay? What will we be doing six months or a year from now? I just don’t know. Thinking about the unknown is hard. How do we pay the rent? How will this affect our children?
Is there anything – even a tiny thing – you enjoy or like about sheltering in place?
Being with people is my calling, and I’m so grateful I have a very understanding husband and daughter who have allowed me to do this. For such a long time we have not sat down and eaten a meal together as a family because I am always at the store. Now, my family and I eat together every day. We eat breakfast every day. We each lunch together. I think that is really cool.
What do you think society as a whole will learn from this experience?
I think we will learn what is important in life. I think people will also focus on what they want to be remembered by, and ask themselves “what am I doing for the human race?” What will you do before you leave this earth to make it a better place? I think people will learn about what love really is and what caring really is, and not to be so self-centered. I hope that’s what we learn, anyway.
How are you coping with stress/taking care of yourself?
I try to listen to a lot of motivational speakers. I try to do some yoga and meditation. I listen to positive things at least once a day.
When future generations ask, what will you tell them about this time in your life?
It was a time to really reflect and see what is important in life. It was also a very scary time. There were a lot of unknowns.
What would you like your friends and neighbors in Silver Spring/Montgomery County to know?
My sister and I are so grateful to have a business in Silver Spring. Opening our store in here is the best decision we ever made. I don’t have words to say how grateful we are. People have been coming to buy gift cards, so that whenever we reopen they can use them. People just stop by to say hello, or they email to say how are you doing? It’s a beautiful thing. We feel like the community is our extended family and we are so grateful to live where people care and show love.