B.R. joined Sakhi as our newest Domestic Violence Program Advocate (DVPA) in January. Although a recent addition to Sakhi, B.R. has shared Sakhi’s vision and goals for many years. Born and raised in Bangladesh, B.R. first learned about Sakhi while working on her Master’s thesis at John Jay College after immigrating to the US in 2005. Although completing her studies with limited English proficiency was initially challenging, B.R. persevered by carrying a tape recorder to class and reviewing the recordings at home – some times as much as three times in one evening. B.R.’s determination and interest in women’s issues, specifically the impediments faced by immigrant women who require fair access to social services to which they are entitled, led her to do research. This led her to discover Sakhi’s work, including the groundbreaking work Speaking the Unspeakable: Marital Violence among South Asian Immigrants in the United States”written by former member of the board and long-term supporter of Sakhi, Margaret Abraham..
B.R. became more formally involved with Sakhi as a volunteer in the spring of 2009, attending our extensive, three-week volunteer training, which she credits with further facilitating her interest in Sakhi’s and the crucial work being done by domestic violence program advocates everywhere. As a volunteer, and later as an intern, B.R. accompanied survivors seeking assistance at Sakhi to various appointments, ranging from social service agencies to legal and medical service providers. In addition to providing survivors with vital emotional support during accompaniments, B.R. also gives essential language interpretation for survivors who were either non-English proficient, or who prefer to speak Bengali; providing her with formidable experience as she stepped into her new role as our DVPA. B.R. handles extensive casework in her new position and has recently spoken on behalf of Sakhi at a City Hall hearing entitled “Oversight: How Does the Violence Against Women Act Impact Services for Immigrant Women in New York City?” When discussing this important outreach work at a staff meeting, B.R. noted that “I felt confident and happy that I was able to contribute to efforts to ensure that our survivors and all survivors of violence against women get appropriate services and support.”
B.R. is excited by the opportunity of working with women from within the South Asian community, and participating in efforts towards achieving positive and necessary expansion of services and support for women who seek Sakhi’s services. B.R. is a mother, an advocate, a researcher and a role model for Sakhi’s staff, survivors, allies and partners. Her own path of personal growth, coupled with the knowledge and dedication she brings to Sakhi’s work is crucial to our ability to provide holistic and intentional support and services to our survivors and the larger movement to eliminate violence against women.