Sakhi Raises Awareness on Violence

by Farzana Rahman, Communications Intern

As Sakhi enters its pivotal 20th year, the organization continues to serve survivors while working proactively to transform community understanding of abuse. In the first half of 2009, Sakhi has already participated in or led 39 outreach events to raise awareness on domestic violence, share information on Sakhi’s vital services, and facilitate community dialogue to end abuse. These events have included local conversations in Queens as well as national presentations to government officials, demonstrating the depth and scope of Sakhi’s impact.

The summer is always a busy time for Sakhi’s community engagement programming and this August has been no different! On August 13th, Sakhi attended a health fair held in Newkirk, Brooklyn. Many community members appreciated what Sakhi was doing for the South Asian community and were curious how they could help.  The Coney Island Mela in the same neighborhood on August 16th also motivated significant interest in Sakhi’s work.

As Shazia Muhammad, Sakhi’s Operations Coordinator, explains, “Sakhi’s presence at the Mela was important because it let the attending Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities know that Sakhi is an important part of their communities and is available to survivors who need assistance. The Mela was a festive occasion which drew crowds of families and young people. With a myriad of vendors and entertainers competing for people’s time, it was especially inspiring to see a vast group of people patiently listening to our description of Sakhi’s anti-domestic violence services.”

One woman expressed to Shazia that the neighborhood does not receive support or even hear about resources such as Sakhi. Shazia observes, “Domestic Violence is a difficult subject for many members of the South Asian community and this fact made our presence at the Mela all the more recognizable. Our resolve to share information about the resources available through Sakhi with the festive crowed, despite the difficult subject matter, highlighted our commitment to build a stronger community.”

This commitment to a strong, inclusive community was also demonstrated as Sakhi participated in the India Day Parade on August 16th with the South Asian Lesbian and Gay Association (SALGA), some of whose members marched with Sakhi to call for an end to same sex violence and to celebrate Sakhi’s 20th anniversary. SALGA had not been given approval to march on its own and joined Sakhi to show together the need for a safe, inclusive community. As Sakhi and its supporters handed out 1,000 flyers on Sakhi’s programs and work, many proud bystanders cheered and praised Sakhi for its service to the community. With its community engagement – from the grassroots to the halls of government – Sakhi continues to transform understanding of abuse and how we together can create lasting change to strengthen our community.

 

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