Saheli Newsletter June 2014
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From the Editor's Desk

We celebrated our Mothers this May. And soon we will be celebrating our Fathers in June. One may ask why Saheli, an organization renowned for its work with women and domestic violence is thinking about men? It is precisely because violence against women can only be stopped if the violator is empowered to make different choices. Just saying no is not enough.
Men need to be directly engaged in the conversation to make an effective change.  Men need to actively participate in the discourse on inculcating healthy relationships and spread the message to the larger South Asian community. So in 2014, Saheli has launched a new initiative, Men Against Violence  (MAV). Read more about the campaign below!
2014 has also seen a leap into our Mental Health Initiative, which I wrote about in the last newsletter.  We have also initiated an Economic Empowerment Program to provide modest scholarships for women to enhance their education and training toward employment and economic independence.  We are confident that these new initiatives will strengthen our goal of transitioning survivors of domestic violence to lead productive and meaningful lives.

From January to April, our Domestic Violence Program has served:
  • 55 clients
  • through 155 sessions 
  • for a total of 252 hours.
None of this would be possible without you: our dedicated volunteers, patrons, and well-wishers.  We thank each and everyone for their time and dedication to the cause. Together we will continue on our mission to be a friend, a Saheli to women and families who have survived violence.
Sreemoti Mukerjee-Roy


159 South Asian men have already pledged to do their part to end violence against women. Have you?

Help us get to our goal of 300 pledges by July 1st! It only takes a minute.  

"I promise to take a stand and never commit, condone, or remain silent about any form of domestic violence, sexual assault, or abuse against women, men and children."
- Alkesh Shah, Acton, MA

Read more about the campaign below!

Mental Health & Emotional Well-being Symposium

Join us on September 14th for Saheli's "Mental Health and Emotional Well Being. Yes: It’s Ok to Talk.” A range of mental health topics pertinent to New England's South Asian community will be addressed by experts and community leaders. The event is free to attend.

Please click here to register! 

Read more about the event below!

Upcoming Events


Men Against Violence Campaign

Saheli is proud to announce our new campaign, Men Against Violence (MAV), under the leadership of Advisory Committee Member Ramesh Advani, Treasurer and Board Member Manish Patel, and Volunteer Joya Banerjee. 

We strongly believe that men are vital to the conversation if we are to change attitudes toward violence against women. We are partnering with the international human rights organization Breakthrough’s award-winning Bell Bajao Campaign and Jane Doe to engage South Asian men in our communities to get educated on the issues, to speak out, and to reject violence when overheard, witnessed or condoned. 

Help us get to our goal of 300 by July 1st, 2014!


In the United States alone,
  • More than three women a day are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends each year
  • 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner
  • One in 4 women have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner, while 1 in 7 men have experienced the same

MAV Events:

  • On February 1st, we held a pledge drive at the India Association of Greater Boston’s Republic Day Celebration in Burlington, MA
  • On February 25th, Saheli partnered with Jane Doe. Inc’s White Ribbon Day Campaign, which offers a welcoming vehicle for men and boys to take a public stand against violence against women and to promote healthy masculinity as a positive means to support peaceful and healthy communities.
  • On April 27th, we held a breakfast discussion on Family & Relationships in Nashua, New Hampshire
  • On May 3rd, we organized a Pledge Drive at the Mandaara New England Kannada Koota's Grand Ugadi Celebrations


Click here to learn more, make a pledge, and help us to spread the word!


Jane Doe White Ribbon Day

Every year, on the first Thursday in March, Jane Doe, Inc. ( observes the Massachusetts White Ribbon Day, at the State House. Saheli, a proud affiliate of Jane Doe, along with 400 to 500 people across the Commonwealth took part in this event. Saheli urged male participants at the day to become involved in Saheli’s Men Against Violence campaign.


September Mental Health Event

On September 14th Saheli is proud to host our first ever symposium on mental health and well being. The day long Symposium in will feature four panels: The Impact of DV On Children, Raising Resilient Teenagers, Precarious Manhood, and Motherhood. This initiative is sponsored by Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation, and will be held at their location in Wellesley, MA. For further details or to register click here. 

Saheli Sabha Support Group

Saheli Sabha, a support and empowerment group, concluded its second successful season on March 5, 2014 with a productive and delightful celebratory dinner at Board Secretary, Gouri Banerjee’s home. A light dinner is served at these free meetings. We have lined up a dynamic group of guest speakers for this current season, including several psychologists, a yoga instructor, and an award-winning counselor and activist for women’s empowerment from India. Each week a new topic is presented by an invited speaker and facilitated by a Saheli member. In March, Mrs. Jyotsna Batra from New Delhi made a presentation to Saheli Sabha about the changes in laws about sexual harassment and domestic violence since the Nirbhaya incident in Delhi.

Click here to learn more about the Saheli Sabha Support Group. Meetings are held on the second Saturday of each month from 2-4pm in the Burlington Public Library. Please check our Events Calendar for exact dates!

Economic Empowerment Program

Saheli’s Economic Empowerment Program (EEP) is a new initiative by Saheli to provide services to our clients and the community which will give our clients tools and resources to live a self-sufficient, self-sustaining, empowered life.

Through this program, Saheli will provide the following three categories of services and resources:
  1. Funding: Saheli will provide financial assistance to survivors of Domestic Violence and women from low income families to help them to pursue a certificate or program which can help them gain a new set of skills or polish an existing one, which can help increase their chances of being more employable. There is a set application process and instructions available on our website for any individual who is eligible to apply.
  2. Career Support and Workshops: Saheli will be providing a variety of services to our clients to enhance their job skills and enable them to achieve economic self-sufficiency. This program will cover skills training and workshops including career advice and planning, resume writing, how to conduct a job search, how to fill out job applications, how to make a LinkedIn profile, networking, etc. 
  3. Mentoring Program (Meri Saheli):  Saheli will also be providing a mentoring program under our EEP program which will be called “Meri Saheli”. Through this program, we will match our clients with a mentor/ Saheli, a successful, educated woman in the community who is enthusiastic about supporting one of our Sahelis by guiding her through various career decisions, choices and sharing her knowledge on various resources available for our clients to help them achieve self-sufficiency and feel more empowered and aware. These mentors will work one to one with their Saheli.  
We have sponsored four candidates so far this year:
  • One recipient used the funds for classroom training in JAVA,
  • One purchased a computer to further her job search
  • One used the funds to apply for a visa under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA),
  • One set up a consignment store on the South Shore to recycle gently worn clothing and accessories, and to use the store space for outreach events to South Asian women.
Click here to learn more or to apply.

New Advisory Committee!

Please join us in welcoming our four new Advisory Committee Members for the 2013-2015 term:
  • Ramesh Advani is the Director of Federal Grants Management in the Executive Office for Administration & Finance at the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Ramesh is one of the leaders of Saheli's Men Against Violence Campaign.
  • Anu Chitrapu is a graduate of the MIT Sloan School of Management and is a Senior Vice President for Bank of America as a Transformation and Performance Executive. She is our Economic Empowerment Program Mentor.
  • Lata Rao is one of Saheli's veteran volunteers and one of our Senior Domestic Violence Advocates. She has contributed to Saheli over the years in organizing events, fundraising and representing Saheli at community events.
  • Dr. Manju Sheth is a primary care physician in Danvers. She is our community spokesperson at events and assists with our fundraising initiatives.

Culturally-Sensitive Care Presentation

Saheli Domestic Violence Advocate Salita Mehta gave a brief presentation at Melrose Wakefield Hospital at an event on March 17. She described the challenges faced by South Asian families in obtaining culturally sensitive care, distributed the Domestic Violence Resource Book created by Saheli, and an informational flier on how to contact Saheli. There were 10 other panelists including representatives from Asian Task Force, REACH, Respond, Inc., and Shawn McMaster, Director of Community Partnerships, from the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office who is actively promoting collaborations in Middlesex county with the immigrant community. 


Volunteer Appreciation Day

On February 8, Saheli Advisory Committee Member Lata Rao organized a volunteer appreciation event to recognize members who generously donated time expertise to Saheli in 2013. It was followed by a presentation from Dr. Pratibha Shah on Aryuveda and South Asian Nutrition.

Nirbhaya and The Law: One Year Later

Nutrition. In March, Mrs. Jyotsna Batra from New Delhi made a presentation to the Saheli Sabha Support Group about the changes to Indian law about sexual harassment and domestic violence since the Nirbhaya gang rape in Delhi in 2012. 

Education Outreach to South Asian Families

Saheli has noticed that amongst our clients who are parents, there is often a lack of awareness about the educational opportunities available to their children. On April 19th, Saheli collaborated with the Watertown Public School system to sponsor a meeting with South Asian youth heading to college and their parents. Led by ESOL teacher Alison Leavitt, the goals of the meeting were two-fold: how to empower South Asian immigrant children to become college ready, and how to engage parents in the conversation and process. Saheli gave 10 high school students funds to purchase Charlie subway tickets to attend college fairs and network with college counselors. Syed Rizvi of IAGB introduced Saheli to two Urdu and Pushto-speaking Visiting scholars at Harvard University to work on language and cultural issues. At the invitation of WPS, Saheli plans to host a program in the Fall aimed at increasing college readiness for low-income students. Saheli seeks Urdu, Hindi and Bengali speakers for the event. If you would like to volunteer, please write to

UMass Boston’s Asian American Student Success Program

UMass Boston staff asked Saheli to encourage South Asian youth to apply to the undergraduate program “Asian American Student Success Program, at The main goals of the program are to help Asian-American students get into college and to make sure they succeed, both academically and personally.

Elder Seminar 

In March Saheli conducted a seminar for 50 South Asian elders at the Burlington Council on Aging. The Director of the Older Battered Women’s Program of Greater Lynn Senior Services, Kate Galenius, presented on the specialized program for the elderly offered by Elder Protective Services to those over 50 years of age to mitigate elder abuse in Massachusetts.

Elder abuse is when someone (a caregiver or relative, for example) seriously harms an elderly person physically or emotionally, or steals or misuses the money or property of an elderly person.

One of the ways to raise awareness of elderly abuse is to inform neighbors, or family members to be observant as they may know, or come across someone, who is abused and they should let them know that there is help available.

Help is available in the form of counseling, support groups, domestic violence hot lines, intervention, safety planning, advocacy, legal help, financial management, transportation, etc.  Services are designed to keep the individual independent and safe in their home.

Fundraising & Capacity Building

Razia Mashkoor, the Director of a show called Chalte Chalte, donated $400 worth of tickets to Saheli. Khandaan-E- Kapoor, a musical event organized by Meera and Mohan Subramanium, Manju Sheth and a large team of talented singers, donated $1675 to Saheli.

In its continuous focus on capacity building, Saheli Staff, Advisory Committee and Board Members attend trainings, workshops and meetings at other professional organizations. Grants from the Saffron Circle, Lahey Hospital and Medical Center’s Community Benefits Initiative and Saheli’s operating funds provided funds to attend these trainings. 

Trainings included:
  • Training to become a Domestic Violence Advocate at Dove, attended by Ramesh Advani, Sharon Schiff and Vandana Sharma
  • Cultural Competency Training to Serve Minority Groups, organized by CHNA15 and attended by Rita Shah, Salita Mehta, Bonie Bagchi-Williamson, Deepika Madan, and Gouri Banerjee                                       
  • Tips and Tricks for Grant Writing organized by CHNA15. Attended by Tanvi Devimane and Zarina Memon.

Expanding Boundaries 

Saheli is poised for expanding its services in 2014 to the South Shore. Starting in the summer of 2014, Saheli will be working in Quincy in collaboration with Domestic Violence Ended (DOVE) and Quincy Asian Resources (QARI), and members of the South Shore Mental Health Community to reach out to Asians. Over 1,000 South Asian families live in the City of Quincy alone.

Sahelis Rita and Gouri met with Sue Chandler (DOVE) and John Brothers (QARI), Executive Directors, staff and psychologists at both centers to make plans. Contingent upon increased community support and funding, Saheli anticipates significant growth in the area by 2015. If you would like to be involved in projects on the South Shore, please write to

New Horizons

Mental health issues often go hand-in-hand with domestic violence. In 2014, Saheli has made Mental Health Awareness a priority. On March 29th, Saheli hosted a table at the East Coast Asian American Student Union’s Mental Health Summit at UMass Boston. Organized for Asian college students, the Summit highlighted a range of difficult topics from depression and suicide to healing, and underscored the impact of immigration and the challenges of the LGBTQ Asian youth.

On March 31th, Saheli held a Community Alliance Meeting in Wellesley. Roughly 100 community leaders joined together to highlight the significance of mental well-being and good health. Saheli discussed our upcoming Mental Health Symposium on September 14th.

At the event, Saheli Board Member Dr. Kumkum Pareek Malik presented a talk entitled, “Raising Awareness About Motherhood.” She said that she chose Motherhood as her specialization because women are treated for anxiety, depression, mood swings, as well as physical ailments like cancer and diabetes, without consideration of their work as mothers. The work of a mother, she said, “is real work, that requires real energy, real smarts, and real physical and emotional output.” Kumkum gave case examples from her practice, saying “Motherhood affects everyone. It is a family issue, not a 'women’s issue.'” 

On April 20th, Saheli participated in a Health Expo in Burlington organized by India New England News. Kumkum Pareek Malik provided literature and information on where to get help for domestic violence and depression. Prashanth and Anuradha Palakurthi generously donated 6 new tablets towards Saheli's Economic Empowerment Program. Prashanth is the Founder and  CEO of  Reflexis Systems, Inc. and Anuradha is a well-known singer in New England.

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Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 1345
Burlington, MA 01803

Meeting Group Location:
Burlington Public Library
22 Sears Street
Burlington MA 01803

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