Sakhi attended several festive community-based celebrations in the month of August. Members of Sakhi who attended note how glad they were to be part of the fabric of the cultural celebrations to which we belong. Namely, we walked along the parade route, handing out flyers on August 1, 2010 at the annual Pakistani Day Parade. We also attended the Coney Island Mela held in Brooklyn, which was organized by the Pakistani American Merchants Association, distributing materials and talking to merchants and festival-goers about the need for services. And we also proudly marched as official members of the India Day Parade on August 15th. The South Asian Community at large greeted us with a huge welcome at all three events.
The first celebration, on Sunday, August 1, was the annual Pakistani Day Parade. It is a celebration of Pakistan’s Independence Day and attracts a large gathering of Pakistani-American families annually. It must be noted that we were unable to afford the $1000 fee imposed by the Pakistan Day Parade Committee to march in the parade officially, but we still attended, distributing materials on the services that Sakhi provides to the Pakistani community. As long-time Sakhi volunteer and former intern, Tara Sarath puts it, the work we do even amongst the celebration, requires dedication. She humorously advises that amidst the hard work of flyering at these festive events “occasionally one is distracted by the smells of cooking food steaming from Halal food carts and the shapely turn of a samosa in the sun. A Sakhi’s work is indeed difficult!”
The following Sunday on August 8, Sakhi was another festive day. We were present at the always-jovial Coney Island Mela where many South Asian families and merchants listened to us describe the need for our community to be aware of the services offered to them in New York and very importantly, for the need for options for women in our communities who are facing violence in their home instead of safety and peace. Attendees were mainly of Pakistani descent and we were again very well-received.
And then on the following Sunday, August 15, we attended the India Day Parade. Here we marched in an official capacity, as the organizers, the Federation of Indian Associations, do not charge any fees for community-based organizations to march. One volunteer and former intern, Aishwarya Iyer puts it, “It was really a great experience. As we walked in the parade, holding the Sakhi banners, we’d hear scattered applause and so many approving glances from well-wishers and supporters who were on the sidelines. It was incredible to be there, celebrating India, Sakhi, and to see everyone come together. It also reminded me of how far we’ve come.”
The focus of Sakhi for South Asian Women work is to end violence against women. Because of our cultural competency and language accessibility, it is indeed women of Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and Indian origin who most often seek our services. We have been here in existence in our community since our start in 1989 and we have been a part of the growth and successes of our communities in all of these years. With each new year, we seem to be received with open arms by more and more members of our community. It is a pleasure to receive the recognition of our communities for the difficult work we and others are engaged in. We thank you, members of our communities for your welcome and for the part you play each day in strengthening our communities.
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