Hello. My name is Masuma Yesmin. I want to thank you for helping me go from a place of uncertainty and fear to a new place of possibility and hope.
In 1998, I married a man my parents chose for me. I joined my husband in New York four years after our marriage. Our relationship was not going well from the very beginning. He was extremely controlling and temperamental. My husband drove a taxi at night and expected me to be awake at 3 a.m. when he came home. If I ever fell asleep, I would have to face his wrath. His anger turned into a habit of beating me.
One summer, he sent my children and I to visit Bangladesh. What I thought was going to be a few weeks turned into two long years. I never suspected anything was terribly wrong until I found hidden divorce papers. I then realized why my husband sent us away for so long – legally, I was only allowed to stay outside of the U.S. for 2 years. My husband and his family were planning to abandon me in Bangladesh and kidnap my three children back to the U.S.
I was completely shocked. I trusted him and his family and felt betrayed and scared knowing I was about to lose everything. With the help of a friend, I reached out to the American Embassy in Dhaka, and I obtained permission for re-entry to the U.S. I landed at JFK in November 2007 with my three children. When I landed in the airport, the first thing I did was contact my husband. Even though he abused me, I didn’t think he would abandon his children. I couldn’t believe it when he just didn’t show up. My children and I ended up in a shelter. The people at the shelter put me in touch with Sakhi. It was when I spoke to a Sakhi advocate who knew my language and understood my culture, and my religion, my situation, that I finally felt some hope.
It truly would have been impossible for me to be where I am today without Sakhi’s help. My Sakhi advocate fought for my rights and spoke on behalf of me when I faltered in English. She took me everywhere I needed to go and helped me navigate confusing systems – the public assistance office, social security office, family court, police precinct, children’s school, and the children’s counselor’s office. With Sakhi’s help, I took ESL, computer, and bookkeeping classes. Finally after endless appointments with my children, Sakhi helped me secure public housing. After 16 months of living in a shelter, I have my own apartment!
When I came to the U.S. in 2007, I felt completely broken. I did not have any hope. Now, I have a permanent place to live, am working part-time and looking for a full time job. I have hope for myself. I have dreams for my children. I am forgetting my past.
Thank you for helping me by giving to Sakhi. There are many women like me who come to Sakhi every day, trying to find their way out of scary life situations. This holiday season, I hope you will consider lending them a hand by making a gift to Sakhi.