Creating Government Partnerships to Enable Community Development

2010 has already shown itself as an encouraging year for Sakhi.  As the organization continues to build a voice among local communities, Sakhi has also begun to achieve national recognition.  In addition, becoming a leader in the development of judicial language access and interpreting services has claimed the government’s attention, both locally and nationally.  In recent years, the organization’s involvement with government agencies has expanded the discussion of system-wide reform, stressing the need for essential programming that is the foundation for Sakhi’s mission.


On February 4, 2010, Mr. Stringer gave his State of the Borough speech entitled “Magnet City” where Executive Director, Tiloma Jayasinghe, represented Sakhi– exemplifying Sakhi’s interest in including government leaders to help facilitate Sakhi’s mission.  In his address, Mr. Stringer spoke of the city’s reliance on immigrant communities and his hope to empower this community through reworking chronic issues such as education, transit and crime.  He called upon organizers to provide this support, using one another as resources so that “New York City [may] [remain] as a magnet for all those success stories yet to be written.”


Mr. Stringer ended his speech by citing other city’s achievements, comparing them to New York, stating that “none of them have that beautiful statue in the harbor that insists that people from all over the world come join us.  No other place is so clearly defined by the way it embraces newcomers – whoever they are – and wherever they’re from.  At this moment, our city’s defining feature is also our greatest asset. We are the ultimate magnet city.”  This statement directly correlates with Sakhi’s work; to empower and educate South Asians who come to the United States for a fresh start, employment or various other opportunities.   Tiloma states “Sakhi and its supporters, its community and the women we all serve comprise a portion of these newcomers.  Borough President Stringer is absolutely correct – we provide this city’s defining asset – the ability to overcome obstacles, to grow and to flourish.  Most importantly, we bring the ability to envision a better world – a world free from violence, and the strength and commitment to attain that goal.”


On January 26, 2010, a similar tone was set by Queens Borough President, Helen Marshall, in her inaugural address. Direct Services Director, R.C. represented Sakhi, as well as the many survivors who are residents in this borough.  Ms. Marshall began her speech by stating, “I embrace the words of Abraham Lincoln at his inauguration; this country with its institution belongs to the people who inhabit it.” She went on to highlight her admiration to local Samaritans who by their courageous and compassionate actions, made a difference in other people’s lives.  Ms. Marshall states, “I know that working together we will make a difference”.  In response to the Borough President’s expectations, R.C. expresses, “the Queens Borough President is invested in making changes happen not only for Queens’ residents but for other residents as well…I hope that her continued efforts will influence and bring about new leaders within our own community.”


Despite the challenges faced by local and national organizations, Sakhi’s efforts to partner with agencies and government officials have been incredibly rewarding.  The evolving interest in domestic violence prevention and judicial reform particularly among government affiliated organizations and leaders, has sent a clear message to Sakhi and the immigrant community that change is happening.  Sakhi will continue to facilitate the partnership to ensure that change will happen.