Sakhi Engages Our Community to End Violence

Despite its small staff and resources, Sakhi reached out to local neighborhoods, government agencies, private institutions, and allies in the field for a total of 69 outreach events in 2008.

Through a combination of 36 presentations, 11 tabling sessions, 11 networking sessions, 7 group facilitations, and 4 discussions held across New York City and the country, Sakhi helped raise awareness about domestic violence and our ongoing programs to empower survivors.

Indeed, in recognition of Sakhi’s community presence and impact, Sakhi’s Executive Director Purvi Shah was awarded the Social Service Achiever of the Year Award during the May 10th South Asian Excellence Awards ceremony, which was hosted at The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City by Sony Entertainment Television.

Speaking at the event, Purvi observed upon receiving the honor, “Both survivors of abuse and people who love them are realizing they do not have to live with abuse. Sakhi’s work is made possible by the courage of survivors and their loved ones as well as a fabulous team of individuals who work together in the belief that we deserve safe homes and strong communities.”

One event where Sakhi staff, community members and allies worked together in 2008 was the Indo-Caribbean Women’s Empowerment Summit, held in Richmond Hill, Queens, on April 26th. The event, co-sponsored with the Jahajee Sisters, was designed to encourage and invite discussions among women in the local community about patriarchy and domestic violence. Workshops, panels, artwork, poetry, and dance were combined to help provide a supportive atmosphere for dialogue about gender inequality.

Suzanne Persard, an attendee commented, “Resilience. Strength. Change. These are just a few of the words that echoed throughout Richmond Hill Library on April 26, 2008 at the second annual 2008 Indo-Caribbean Women’s Empowerment Summit.”

Sakhi staff presented in a number of different venues and touched upon a wealth of topics throughout the year, drawing upon the organization’s expertise and experience of working to end violence within the South Asian community for 20 years.

Co-chair of an Asian American student conference at Oberlin, Cheska Tolentino, came away with a highly positive impression of Sakhi’s work after a presentation in March 2008. She remarked, “It lent some insight into the complexities of the South Asian immigrant woman’s experience. Oberlin students came away from the session wanting to learn more about domestic violence and how they can help survivors using an integrated approach.”

Sakhi also tread new terrain in community education and engagement in 2008. Direct Services Director Sandeep Kaur Bathala co-presented a research study on the crucial links between domestic violence and mental health at a key annual conference in California held by the American Public Health Association. On a more local level, Domestic Violence Program Advocate Fatma Zahra began a weekly support group for women in Richmond Hill, Queens, to discuss issues including the role of faith and domestic violence.

Another key medium through which we conduct outreach is our website. From February to December 2008, our website saw a total of 187,931 sessions, or unique hits from different computers, for a monthly average of 17,084 sessions.

As we transition into 2009, Sakhi looks forward to continuing its record of reaching out to the community, increasing awareness of domestic violence, and sharing its expertise with key institutions and allies.