WE THANK YOU FOR COMING: Sakhi’s 21st Birthday Gala!

by Tara Sarath

On October 1st, 2010 the glittering ballroom of Cipriani Wall Street was transformed into a space of dialogue and community engagement mingled with the strains of Hidayat Khan’s sitar and Goldspots’ Siddhartha Khosla’s outstanding vocals. The silent auction table brimmed with items from jewelry donated by Zsa Zsa Jewels, to a yoga workshop donated by Moksha Arts. Sandhya Jain Patel of Christie’s engaged the audience during the live auction with everything from a trip to Bali to a Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Board members, donors, volunteers, and survivors all celebrated Sakhi’s seventh annual gala entitled “Blossoming into A New Decade”.

The evening was centered on not only a reflection of Sakhi’s twenty-one year history, but also the new waters to be charted as we enter our third decade of work. As Sakhi’s new Executive Director Tiloma Jayasinghe pointed out “yes we help one woman at a time, but we are also impacting her children, her parents, her extended family, her friends, her colleagues, her neighbors, and their children, their parents, their extended family, their friends, their colleagues and their neighbors, rippling outwards in a true global movement to end violence against women.The expertise that we gather at Sakhi, the combined power of all these stories, enables us to amplify the voices of those who before, were voiceless, and tell of their courage to donors like you, to local officials, at nationwide conferences, and before international bodies.”

Honored speaker Radhika Coomaraswamy, First United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women and current UN SRSG for Children and Armed Conflict expressed her anticipation for Tiloma’s tenure, as well as for Sakhi’s next decade of work, as she recognizes how important community-based organizations are in supporting survivors of violence as they achieve lives of safety and become advocates for social change.  As Ms. Coomaraswamy illustrated through the story of a young Sudanese girl, who was mutilated and tortured by rebels in Darfur but who is currently head of her own NGO- a supportive community can be all the difference for women in crisis. Aasif Mandvi, the second guest speaker of the evening, echoed these sentiments when he thanked Sakhi for its important direct-services for survivors of violence  and exhorted the audience to support our life-saving work.

The Gala was attended by many of our loyal supporters, such as Chandni and Mukesh Prasad, who are key sponsors of the Swarna Chalasani Economic Empowerment Fund which we use to award grants to survivors to help them pursue higher education and entrepeneurial goals. It is with their help and the help of other like-minded individuals in our community that we hope to expand our programs to respond to the changing needs of survivors.   For example, we are also re-galvanizing our Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) to focus on the link between domestic violence and reproductive health and choices.  Finally, we are currently developing several new initiatives- such as piloting a project that incorporates components of the restorative justice model to address violence in our  communities.

We have powerful and ambitious years ahead of us and your continued support of Sakhi is a crucial part of this work.

Special thanks again to our guests, Radhika Coomaraswamy, Hidayat Khan, Siddhartha Khosla, Aasif Mandvi, Melanie Kannakoda, and Sandhya Jain Patel for helping to highlight our cause. Of course, the tireless effort of our Board Chair Tamseela Tayyabkhan and our Gala Co-Chairs Pallavi and Anil Atluri, and Reena and Samir Mathur made the evening possible. Tremendous thanks to our Gala Benefit Committee, Program and Development Associate Danielle Reydon, and volunteer Radhika Nayar as well as our staff and volunteers for their energy throughout the night.

Please click on the link to learn more about our Economic Empowerment Program.

Couldn’t make it, but would still like to contribute to Sakhi? Please click on the following link to find outhow to get involved and make a difference in our work against domestic violence