Beenish Ahmed | Michigan Radio
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Beenish Ahmed

Reporter, Detroit

Beenish Ahmed is one of Michigan Radio's Detroit-based reporters. Since 2016, she has been a reporter for WNYC Public Radio in New York and also a freelance journalist. Her stories have appeared on NPR, as well as in The New Yorker, Harper’s, The Atlantic, VICE and The Daily Beast. Additionally, Beenish spent two years in Islamabad, Pakistan, working with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, covering the country’s first democratic transition of power as well as Pakistan's education system.

Much of her reporting has focused on covering under-reported stories and adding nuance to major headlines. That included covering stories related to DACA and the #MeToo movement as well as reporting on the personal challenges Muslims in metro Detroit faced in taking a public stand against President Trump’s so-called “Muslim ban.”

She is a graduate of the University of Michigan and has a master’s degree from the University of Cambridge. She was also a Spencer Fellow at the Columbia School of Journalism in New York, and an NPR Kroc Fellow.

Michigan State Police

An event for local police chiefs featuring a controversial law enforcement trainer scheduled to take place in Novi next month has been canceled, following a series of complaints to the church where it was to be held, as well as the organization that planned it. 

Beenish Ahmed / Michigan Radio

Marion King said her hesitancy about the vaccine turned into urgency only after she lost both her mother and aunt to COVID-19 last month. 

“When I found out my mom was positive, I know my aunt had to be because whatever air my mother breathed, you breathed it too,” King said, noting that the sisters had what she described as an “inseparable bond.” 

Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit
Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

Nurses in the Henry Ford Health System say they're feeling the strain of the latest COVID-19 surge.

When Lauren Varley saw her first COVID-19 case in the ICU last year, she told her parents she couldn't see them for a month. That month stretched into six as she worried about exposing her parents to the virus that claimed the lives of so many of the patients she risked her own life to treat.

"It made me feel extremely hopeless and very helpless as a nurse because I knew that any patient that I saw with COVID, I knew there was a very high possibility that they just were not going to survive," Varley said.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Members of the Michigan-based protest movements that formed in the wake of George Floyd’s killing say Derek Chauvin’s murder conviction is a vindication of their cause.

Leaders from the protest movement called Detroit Will Breathe gathered with supporters in the snow in front of Detroit Police Headquarters just after the Chauvin verdict on Tuesday evening. They said the verdict shows the power of their movement, but it’s hardly the end point.

“Today is certainly a victory for the movement and defense of Black and brown lives. Unfortunately, it falls short of freedom,” said Nakia Wallace, a co-founder of Detroit Will Breathe.

A group of students wearing masks look at a book on a desk together
JR-50 / Adobe Stock

Update: 8:55 p.m.

At a meeting on Thursday evening, Detroit public school board members adopted a plan to maintain a pause on in-person instruction through May 11. The district will open schools for learning labs where students receive staff oversight on virtual learning on April 26. Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said the district would consider suspending all in-person instruction through the end of the school year if the current COVID-19 surge continues. Positivity rates on COVID tests in Detroit are 20%.

A healthcare worker process a COVID-19 test at Beaumont.
Beaumont Health

The federal government won't be sending additional vaccines to Michigan. That's despite Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s efforts to secure more shots as cases and hospitalizations continue to increase.

Many area Muslims are preparing for their second Ramadan of the pandemic, with hope that the month of dawn-to-dusk fasting will be filled with the communal prayers and family gatherings they went without last year, as COVID-19 began to sweep the state.

testing swab
Shutterstock image

The Henry Ford Health System will contribute to an ongoing national studying the efficacy of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in children, in a study similar to the one it conducted with adults last year. 

Dr. Adnan Munkarah, Chief Clinical Officer, said that the hospital system will begin looking for parents to volunteer children between the ages of 6 months and 12 years old to take part in the study in the coming weeks.

 

The killing of six Asian women and two others at spas in Atlanta last month, has revived the memory of a young Chinese-American who died after being beaten by two autoworkers in Highland Park in 1982. Vincent Chin was killed during a time of heightened anti-Asian sentiment, with Asian Americans bearing the blame for the decline in the auto-industry, not unlike how they have been attacked for causing COVID-19 now. 

Empty classroom
Kevin Wong / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Many Detroit public school students would go back to their classrooms in-person, if their teachers would do the same. 

 

A survey conducted earlier this month by the Detroit Public Schools Community District found that 40% of students would prefer in-person instruction to virtual learning.

 

When schools re-opened on March 8, about 9,000 students in the district returned to classrooms or “learning labs” where they are supervised by educators during virtual lessons, according to the district.

Courtesy of Katie O'Donnell

Katie O’Donnell asked her students to take out a worksheet for a writing exercise that she had included in a packet of supplies. She teaches kindergarten at Detroit Achievement Academy, a charter school on the city’s west side that has been operating on a hybrid model since the fall.

One of her students, a boy she said shifts between his parents’ houses, didn’t have the packet with him, so O’Donnell asked him if there was anything else he could use to write on. She and her students watched online as he and his mother scrounged around their home for supplies. “All they could come up with was this tiny ripped-off sheet of paper, and they didn't have any pencils or anything.” O’Donnell recalled, and added that similar situations have played out several times over the last year.

A neighborhood in Detroit
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

 

Low-income Detroit residents facing housing instability due to economic hardship related to the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible for support through a $50 million fund approved by state lawmakers last week. 

“When we were here a month ago, we had $5 million,” Mayor Mike Duggan said at a press conference on Wednesday. “We couldn't help you unless you had an eviction notice. Now we can help you if you have a late rent.” 

 

Beenish Ahmed / Michigan Radio

 

 

Nealmetria Loper spends much of her day “in” third grade, watching remote lessons over the shoulder of one of her daughters to make sure she’s following along on lessons. The mother of four is also just a shout away if her other daughters run into tech issues or come across directions they don’t quite understand. 
 

illustration of COVID-19 related things
Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

Beenish Ahmed / Michigan Radio

 

A group of second-graders walked to their classroom at William Ford Elementary School in Dearborn following flourescent arrows on the floor to guide them on how much distance to keep between one another. 

“Remember, as you're walking, you're looking down at the arrows and then you're getting too close,” Mariam Albachachy, a second grade teacher, tells her students as they make their way to their classroom after months of online learning. 

Beenish Ahmed / Michigan Radio

 


a woman in scrubs puts on gloves in front of a car
Beenish Ahmed / Michigan Radio

Undocumented immigrants in Detroit who opt to get the COVID-19 vaccine at the TCF Center, which serves as the city’s main vaccination site, will not be targeted by immigration enforcement according to the Detroit Health Department. 

COURTESY OF SPECTRUM HEALTH

It's been seven weeks since the first COVID-19 vaccines were distributed in Michigan and, as of Monday, the state has now officially seen over one million shots in arms. 

 

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services tracks its vaccine distributions in a dashboard that is updated throughout the week with metrics for first and second doses, doses by county, and more. 

 

As of Sunday, more than 200,000 people are now fully vaccinated. 

Courtesy of Anthony Adams For Mayor

Anthony Adams, a former deputy mayor under Kwame Kilpatrick, announced on Tuesday that he will run for mayor of Detroit against incumbent Mike Duggan who is seeking a third term. 

 

In an announcement on Facebook Live, Adams listed off the local businesses he frequents — from shoe shiners to jazz clubs — and his record in public office, which includes serving as the Executive Assistant to Former Mayor Coleman Young and as President of the Detroit Public School Board. 

Courtesy of Sharon Buttry

As Joe Biden took the oath of office to become the 46th president of the United States, a group of more than 40 people watched on through an online viewing party organized by the progressive organization Michigan People’s Campaign.

Some cheered at the end of his first speech as President of the United States, but for many others, the occasion felt heavy after a divisive election, a violent insurrection, and an ongoing public health crisis.

The US Capitol
Jonothan Colman / Flickr

 

The armed mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol building on January 6 shocked many Americans, including those who migrated to this country seeking refuge from instability and violence. 

Watching the insurrection on the news, a man who is seeking asylum in the U.S. from Togo said he saw in his mind, flashes of the violence that forced him to leave his home country.

Raising a mangled finger which he said is the result of torture at the hands of the government, the man, who is a resident of the Detroit-based nonprofit Freedom House and asked not to be named due to the ongoing nature of his asylum proceedings, said he never imagined that such violence could strike the United States. 

a woman in scrubs puts on gloves in front of a car
Beenish Ahmed / Michigan Radio

Detroit launched its first major COVID-19 vaccination campaign on Wednesday at a drive-thru clinic set up in the garage of the TCF Center. City health officials made 400 appointments for Detroit seniors, teachers, and childcare providers.

“I'm an active person,” said Francena Dudely, an 87-year-old lifelong Detroiter, who was among those vaccinated. “I want to be able to get out a little bit and even if I still have to wear a mask, I will feel more comfortable.”