While we were preparing our year-end appeal letters a few years ago, Harsha, a longtime volunteer, commented, “Whenever I enter your offices, I feel such a positive energy. This surprised me as I know what Sakhi’s work entails.” I truly appreciated her saying this as we, the staff, have dedicated time and energy to creating a space of shared intention, where anyone who enters feel like they’ve found a community of like minded individuals where they can share their burdens without judgement, feel safe to share their opinions and aspirations, and lean on each other for support.
Since I’ve been with Sakhi, we’ve moved offices; grown our staff and improved our infrastructure; deepened our work and impact by listening more in order to truly provide programs that are responsive to our community’s needs; revamped our website (a few times) and launched our blog; hosted community engagement events where we amplified progressive voices in the movement; and underwent a theory of change process and an external evaluation to understand our strengths and gaps. This work will continue with the new Executive Director, who will have the support of an amazing staff and a dedicated board. I will always be in awe of the compassion and humility of these women who continually pushed to ensure that we were doing right by our community.
This year, we highlighted our ever-growing and dynamic role as a gender justice organization at our gala, a moment we’ve been working towards over the past six years. Gender justice serves as the backbone of our work, which we’ve been exploring through the intersections of violence, immigration, economic justice, and reproductive justice/health. My hope is that I’ve done justice to all the amazing leaders who came before me at Sakhi; that I’ve continued the mission of five women who met in a living room 28 years ago.
When Sakhi first started, it was a radical notion to speak out against domestic violence, an issue still culturally viewed as a ‘family’ matter, a ‘private’ matter. The time has come again for us to speak out and to be loud. I was saddened to hear the devastating news from Portland of voices standing up against hateful rhetoric against Muslims being extinguished violently as it may serve as a cautionary tale to not get involved. During these volatile times, it is more important than ever to be united as a community and to be present as an ally. I invite you to request a bystander training as we can provide tools to de-escalate situations and help the person suffering harm get to safety.