Saheli Sandesh September 2013
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Saheli September Newsletter 2013
A Note from the Editor
- Sreemoti Mukerjee-Roy

Freedom from fear is a fundamental human right and goes hand in hand with dignity and empowerment. For the survivor trying to shake free from the shackles of abuse and fear, it is a complex process that needs sustained nurturing and support. We at Saheli are aware of this and have re-committed to developing long-term programs for clients, those brave women, children, and in some cases, men. So this season, we are strengthening existing services and undertaking new initiatives toward building sustainable capacity. 
 
Saheli is kick-starting the Fall with its Annual Gala Fund-Raiser on September 20th. We are proud to announce that the event is SOLD OUT!!!!!!!

This year’s theme, "Nirbhaya," named after the young rape victim in New Delhi, embodies Saheli's mission to empower women to be free from violence. Our friends, well-wishers, and sponsors are joining with Chief Guest Meghna Chakravarty of NPR fame, to provide an evening of entertainment and fine cuisine, so that all can live with dignity and freedom. 
 
In September we are launching a new support group, "Empowering South Asian Women: Building Positive Self-Esteem in Healthy Relationships" (ESAW). The ESAW support group is aimed at awareness building and education. Supported by grants from the Saffron Circle - Blue Cross Blue Shield,  the Lenny Zakim Fund, and Jane Doe, Inc., for capacity-building, these conversations are also aimed at increasing outreach efforts and enhancing our empowerment program.

A Saheli hallmark, the free weekly Computer Literacy Classes, will resume on September 25th. Classes are held in the Waltham Public Library. Lead teacher Deepika Madan will once again be assisted by Owen Trippe our first teenage volunteer. He has already received great reviews from our clients! More on Owen later in this newsletter.
 
Saheli's Annual Walk to End Domestic Violence will take place on Saturday, October 5th at 10am in Burlington. It is a 2 hour walk for Saheli supporters of any gender, age or ethnicity. Already a landmark community event, we anticipate a large number of people to participate this year. On October 27th we will host Mehendi– A Ladies Evening Out with henna art, dinner, bhangra, and much more. A part of the proceeds from this event will be donated to Saheli.
 
These funds and volunteer services are crucial to sustaining Saheli's core mission. In the last 8 months Saheli has fielded 102 calls of which 82 were Domestic Violence related.  We were also approached by a few men to assist with domestic abuse situations - a first for us. A dedicated group of DV Advocates have devoted approximately 480 hours working with clients directly. Chandan's story demonstrates the difference Saheli can make. A poem from another Saheli client who chooses to remain anonymous, speaks of empowerment, living Rabindranth Tagore's dream of "Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high..."

All this has been possible with your generosity.  Your contributions have helped women like Chandan and brought out the poet in other survivors.   We thank you for your continued support.
Chandan's Story
Chandan, abandoned by her husband, lived in a shelter in Boston, while her child was placed in foster care. Lacking a green card, she could not avail of several federal and state welfare programs and relied entirely on Saheli for help and guidance. She sought free food from soup kitchens and received medical care and legal help at the shelter.

With Saheli’s referrals she secured a job as a home health care giver for an elderly South Asian women. Chandan was glad to have a home to live in with her daughter, food and a small salary as well. Her daughter was able to attend a good suburban school. Helping the terminally sick elderly woman gave her the much needed skills that allowed her to progress on to her next job.
Click Here to read Chandan's whole story.

Upcoming Events

9/20
Nirbhaya Gala Fundraiser
6:30pm
Westin Waltham Hotel
Master of Ceremonies: Meghna Chakrabarti

9/25
Computer Literacy Classes Start
Time: 6:30
Waltham Public Library
2 hours. 

9/25
Empowering South Asian Women by Building Positive Self-Esteem in Healthy Relationships
6:30 to 8:00 PM
Burlington Public Library

10/5
10 am - 12 noon
Walk starts at Burlington Senior Center

10/27
Mehendi - A Ladies Evening Out
3pm - 7pm
Burlington Senior Center

Why We Do What We Do
- by Salita Mehta
 

We  believe that every woman, every child, every person, has the right to a life free from the fear of violence and abuse. We envision a world where everyone lives with dignity. We also know that those rights are sometimes violated in the homes that are supposed to nurture and protect; that violence does not discriminate, and cuts across age, class, and community lines. Immigrants are even more vulnerable as they no longer have left behind the safety net that was once available in the old home country. As women and as fellow human beings, and as Sahelis, we feel compelled to reach out and empower.

The need for Saheli's services continues to grow each year. Saheli’s domestic violence advocates continue to provide critical help in moments of domestic crises, connecting families to social services that provide shelter, food, transportation and safety. When the crises abate, and some peace is restored, the same advocates continue to work with women to empower them to resume their lives with dignity, peace and safety.
 
Empowering women is a complex process because not all women leaving bad relationships are the same. Some are well educated, employed, and independent. They need emotional support and friendship, a feeling of being connected to family and friends. Other women need employment assistance, a referral, a reference letter, a phone call to someone who is hiring. They may be educated, or not, but are willing to work hard to get back on their feet. Still other women may not have worked outside the house, either in the US or elsewhere. They need significantly more help and a long-term plan that will empower them from English language and computing skills, to finding childcare while holding down a job, to managing finances and budgets. They need support from social agencies, such as subsidized housing, food stamps, health care, and legal assistance.

Today we are proud to share the story of Saheli client Chandan  (her name has been changed to protect her privacy.)
We also share a Survivor's thanks to Saheli expressed in unmatched poetic eloquence!


Poem from a Survivor

My dear Sahelis: A poem, just for you
 
It had all come down to this.
Dreams burned into the dust, joys swept under the rug.
Trembling beneath the smile, tears trying to hold back tears
Like getting lost on a rainy road, without a home. With no destination.
 
I want to know the way where the sun never burns
I want to know the way where the sky is the earth...
.....the place where the stars shine forever,
And the time when my heart turns to gold...
 
Is it in the valley where rainbows live and play?
Over the mountains where angels used to pray?
Here at the altar of my life's blissful moments
I want to see the arms of my first smile...
 
But I can show you torn old faces that are made of sand
They are of the ones who taught me how to walk and held me by their hands;
I can show you tears of a child who is again, learning to smile...
I know her favorite star 'cause I've wished upon it with all my heart,
That someday my lost companion will find his way back home.
 
A family all alone, in despair, they helped us make it through each day,
The true 'Sahelis' kept my despair at bay.
Christmas was yet to come, but Santa's angels came to help...
from tip to the toe, our comfort and needs they kept fulfilling;
'you can do it' 'you will do it' , they said.
 
My dignity, pride and self-respect they kept in mind,
A warm hug, an affectionate kiss, a caring phone call, a compassionate email, or just a sweet nudge on the shoulder....
With a handful friends in need, true friends indeed.
And I am good to go catch the stars again.
 
The sunny days are now to shine
The sleepless nights are soon to be 'not mine'...
Its a matter of days that the sun will shine,
The despair and sorrows burning me are on the wean.
 
From the ashes, like a Phoenix,
I will rise again,
After all, when winter is here
Shall Spring be far behind?



Owen Trippe: Computer Literacy Teacher

Saheli is delighted to introduce Owen Trippe, our enthusiastic and talented Computer Literacy Assistant Teacher. Owen is a freshman at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School in Sudbury, MA. Owen has been helping our Class Instructor, Saheli's Deepika Madan, to teach our clients crucial skills that are necessary for success in today's technological world; particularly for survivors seeking employment and financial independence from abusive partners. Owen is currently designing his own website and hopes to publish it before he graduates from high school. In his free time, Owen enjoys reading, listening to music, video games, basketball and tennis. He enjoys computers and is putting his skills to good use by volunteering for Saheli!

Click here to learn about Saheli's free, weekly Computer Literacy Classes- starting on September 25th!
 
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