(CNN)A Korean American woman living in Los Angeles has created a hate crime booklet for Asian American seniors to prepare them in case they are racially targeted.
The idea was born amid the coronavirus pandemic, after Esther Lim heard the term "China virus," a phrase often used by former President Donald Trump, followed by a steady rise in anti-Asian crimes across the country.
Fearing for her parent's safety, Lim in April 2020 put together a booklet, "How to Report a Hate Crime," with information to guide her parents in case they ever found themselves in that situation.
"I noticed that a lot of the target victims were older generation Asians who couldn't speak English well," Lim, 32, told CNN. "I wanted to make sure my parents, and the rest of the Asian community, knew how to make a report or what to do if they're attacked."
Lim published the booklet in English and translated it to Korean before she was swarmed with requests to translate it into other languages.
By March 2021 Lim had published the booklet in seven languages -- English, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese and Spanish. They are free and available for download online. So far, at least 4,500 booklets have been distributed in person. Thousands more have been downloaded, Lim said.
The booklets are about 15 pages long and provide information focused on legal rights, why hate crimes should be reported and what to do when facing an attack.
Arming Asian Americans with knowledge
In addition to the coronavirus pandemic, Asian communities are facing a dangerous period of hate.
A shooting attack in the Atlanta area last week killed eight people, including six Asian women, further horrifying a community already facing misplaced blame and attacks for the pandemic. An investigation into the shooter's motive is still pending.
Lim's goal is to encourage victims of hate crimes to report them, but to also give them tips on how to safely escape and survive an attack.
She wrote separate booklets for Los Angeles and Orange County, California, as well as New York City, San Francisco and Oakland, with each one featuring specific legal information.
The booklets end with contacts for victims or witnesses of hate crimes to reach out to, along with key phrases translated for non-English speakers who need to communicate for help.
The phrases include: "English isn't my first language," "Someone is following me," and, "Can you stay next to me until it is safe?"
Along with posting the booklets online, Lim distributes them to non-profit organizations in Los Angeles.
She also drops them off at senior centers, elderly clinics and houses of worship. Lim sometimes distributes whistles along with the booklets to give seniors an additional safety tool in case they ever need to signal for help.
"It makes me angry, especially because community leaders don't really do anything tangible about these hate crimes. We can keep talking about racism, but what solutions are we bringing out to individuals who need it?" she said. "I just wanted to do something more effective on my own to help the community. I did what I had to do."
While Lim covers all the costs, donations sent to her GoFundMe help her print and distribute more booklets, as well as translate them into other languages. Eventually, she plans to print them in Arabic and Khmer.