Saheli September Newsletter 2014
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Join us on September 14th for an all day Symposium on Mental Health and Emotional Well-Being at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, 93 Worcester Street, Wellesley, MA.

Sponsored by Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation and led by event Co-Chairs, Kumkum Pareek Malik,
Psy. D, and Neelam Wali, the goal of this Symposium is to raise awareness of mental health issues among South Asians, removing the stigma associated with it, and to acquaint providers with the specific cultural needs of South Asians seeking help.
The event will include free breakfast, lunch and a cocktail reception. While the event is free, advance registration is required.


We expect an audience of about 200 people: community members from the South Asian diaspora seeking information about emotional well-being and mental health, as well as mental health providers who are interested in providing culturally-competent services to South Asians clients. The symposium is designed to provide helpful information for men, women, teenagers and survivors of domestic violence.

Experts will talk about 4 major areas:
  • Precarious Manhood: Understanding manhood and men’s vulnerabilities
  • Building Resiliency in Teens: The demands upon a teenager in US culture
  • Domestic Violence: Narratives of resiliency
  • Motherhood: Respecting the invisible work of motherhood

Click here to view the Symposium agenda!

After the presentations, there will be additional discussions and demonstrations of eastern approaches to mental well-being, such as Kundalini Yoga, Ayurveda, Energy Healing, Hypnosis, Crystal Bowls, T’ai Chi, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture, Qi Gong and Reiki.
The entire event will be punctuated with opportunities to network and connect over meals. Please join us!

Register Today!
Saheli relies on your generous, tax-deductible support to provide crucial, pro-bono services to South Asian women and families in need. 
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Upcoming Events

Annual Walk Against Domestic Violence

Each year Saheli Supporters come together to speak out against domestic violence. Join us on Saturday, Sept 27th at 9am for a 5k walk followed by a fun-filled “mela” or outdoor fair with food, music and information. Read more about the event below!

Saheli Navratri Garba

In early October, Saheli's Quincy branch will host a Navratri garba dance party for middle schoolers and their parents at Quincy Middle School. For more information or to get involved, please email Vandana Sharma

Saheli Strategic Planning Retreat

This August Saheli commenced a new three-year strategic plan under the guidance of consultant Hillary Marcus. This November we will hold a planning retreat including staff, nine board members and nine advisory committee members.
From The Editor's Desk
The recent suicide of Robin Williams has shocked the world. Who would have thought that the great performer who touched the heart of millions, who enjoyed many professional successes and a happy family life, suffered from mental illness or, a lack of emotional wellness, as Saheli's Kumkum Malik likes to call it? He hid it well from the world.
Victims of domestic abuse tend to do the same, generally even more. Studies have determined that while domestic abuse is a major cause of mental ill health globally, it is also a hidden problem. Sharing experiences about the inability to defend oneself against physical, emotional, and mental violence are a cultural taboo in many communities and at the personal level, tinged with shame, awkwardness. The South Asian diaspora is no exception. 
What is exceptional is how Saheli is spearheading a movement to raise awareness about mental health and emotional well-being in the South Asian diaspora. On September 14th, Saheli is hosting the first Emotional Well-Being Awareness Symposium. Focusing on Emotional Well-Being and Positive Mental Health Awareness, the Symposium will bring together a dynamic group of experts, professionals and community members on this rarely discussed issue.
Our mission continues to befriend those who have been subjected to abuse and work toward their emotional well-being and economic empowerment. We are dedicated to ensuring that those who have broken free of the cycle of violence lead productive and meaningful lives. Between January and July 2014, Saheli helped 89 women, in 242 meetings and telephone calls, and spent 411 hours assisting clients. Saheli made referrals to 46 agencies and providers of professional services. We are committed to making a difference by raising awareness about our initiatives and invite you to join us in our Walk Against Domestic Violence on September 27th in Burlington, MA.
As always, Saheli’s initiatives and achievements rest on the support of a dedicated corps of volunteers, patrons, and well wishers. We thank each and everyone for their time and commitment to the cause.  Together we will continue on our mission to be a friend, a Saheli to women who have survived violence.
—Sreemoti Mukerjee-Roy, Editor
10th Annual Walk to End Violence Against Women
Saturday, September 27 in Burlington, MA
Each year, Saheli holds a 5K Walk in Burlington to raise funds and awareness regarding violence against women. This year alone, Saheli has helped 89 clients and our Domestic Violence advocates have invested more than 411 hours in helping survivors. This year, to mark the 10th anniversary of the Walk, we are reaching out to individual and corporate supporters to sponsor our Walk. This family-friendly event will start at 9 am with registration at the Council of Aging, 61 Center Street, Burlington, followed by the Walk. It will end in a fun-filled “mela” or outdoor fair with food, music and information.
The goal of the Walk is to raise awareness by making the issue visible. We believe that awareness shapes public opinion and leads individuals and communities take an active stance against violence against women. Only when society begins to seriously believe that violence against women is wrong and must be stopped will social norms change. Change in social norms will remove the silent acceptance of this violence and, hopefully, deter perpetrators. However, to make this issue visible, we need you! We need you to actively participate by showing up on September 27! Please bring your friends and family. Numbers matter in creating visibility for an important cause.
Saheli is able to do its work due to the donations and grants it receives. It is impossible for us to help survivors without your financial support. You can participate as an individual member and donate whatever amount you wish. Pledge forms are available via a link in the newsletter. You can ask your family, friends and colleagues to sponsor you to walk. Additionally, you can ask your company or friends to sponsor the event.  Every dollar counts towards helping a woman and her family get back on their feet!
If you choose to sponsor this worthwhile cause, you can make checks payable to Saheli P.O Box 1345 Burlington MA 01803 or donate online at Your donation is tax deductible, and will be greatly appreciated. In appreciation of your support, with your permission, we will list your name or the name of your company on our 
website according to the sponsorship levels below:
  • Platinum Sponsor- $1000
    1 year promotion on Saheli’s website, newsletter, flyers and posters, verbal recognition at events

  • Gold Sponsor- $500
    9 months promotion on Saheli’s website and newsletter

  • Silver Sponsor- $200
    6 months promotion on Saheli’s website and newsletter

  • Bronze Sponsor- $100
    3 month promotion on Saheli’s website and newsletter

Please write to if you are interested in becoming a sponsor!
Saheli Branches Out to the South Shore

In June, Saheli opened a new branch in Quincy with Vandana Sharma serving as coordinator for domestic violence work on the South Shore. Quincy has a large South Asian population, and Saheli plans to bring its resources and experience to families facing abuse there. We have already held three informational meetings in June and July and plan more. If you would like further information please write to Vandana

Samantha King from the Office of Attorney General Martha Coakley, spoke about the Victim Compensation and Assistance Program available for victims of violent domestic abuse. This was followed by a wonderful 30 minute workshop with meditation, Gayatri mantra and breath control run by Sanjyot Lupo. Eleven women and fourteen children attended and participated in drumming, face painting, and beading. This was only possible with the help of our volunteers, Renu Tewarie, Eshita Chakrabarti and Sonia Baig, who helped Vandana make the event fun and informative. We hope you will join us on the South Shore and help spread the word!

We're hiring!

We are now accepting applications for a part-time Family Services Coordinator to provide direct services to women and families experiencing domestic violence in New England.

Apply now or help us to spread the word!

In Other News... 
  • Since January, ten women have received funds from Saheli’s Economic Empowerment Program and the Sujana Chalasani Domestic Violence Fund. Most recently, the Economic Empowerment team approved a scholarship to an adult student at Bunkerhill Community College. Saheli provides limited funds for South Asian low-income women seeking certifications and trainings to advance their careers. One of the recipients, Vandana Sharma, pictured left, used the grant to open a consignment store in Medfield, MA. The program was recently featured in India New England News.

    Plans to improve the Economic Empowerment Program continue. Pradip Tandon and three members of Saheli met with the President and Dean of Urban College in Boston to explore ways in which Saheli’s Economic Empowerment Program could be linked to courses and programs at the College. Click here to learn more.

  • Prashant Palakurthi generously donated 6 Windows tablet computers to Saheli towards the Economic Empowerment Program. The tablets will be used in workshops teaching job searching skills. If you would like to volunteer, share your skills with tablet computers, or assist in teaching a workshop, please write to
  • Saheli Zarina Memon presented a poster at Lahey Hospital showcasing Saheli’s work on the Men Against Violence program. The work was funded by a Lahey Community Benefits Initiative Grant. If you are interested in the Men Against Violence program, please write to
  • Deepika Madan, Board Member, completed the spring session of Computer Literacy at Waltham Public Library in May. Free computer classes resume in September. For more information, click here or write to
  • Saheli’s participated in El Mundo (the World), a gathering of people to reduce violence against women. Organized by Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, thousands of people attended this annual event in Fenway Park. Saheli’s Usha Vakil, Rekha Sing and Carole Belgrade had a table and spoke with several service provider agencies. 
  • Saheli Vandana Sharma attended the Moon Festival in Quincy and shared a table with other domestic violence agencies.
  • As a current grant recipient, Saheli Volunteers and Board members also attended several training workshops to gain new skills for running non-profit organizations given by the Lenny Zakim Foundation. These seminars are free and designed for small groups to have an interactive, in-depth learning and networking experience. Some of the topics covered in these seminars were fundraising, volunteer management, and managing a non-profit budget.
  • Saheli’s attended India Day at the Hatch Shell organized by the Indian Association of Greater Boston (IAGB). Sahelis Rita Shah and Zarina Memon discussed Saheli’s work with the community and many people stopped by the Saheli table. 
Personal Milestones


  • Rita Shah, Saheli’s Family Services Coordinator, received her Master’s in Social Work from Simmons College, specializing in Leadership Development.  Rita is currently an outreach coordinator at Cambridge Health Alliance’s Program for Elders.
  • Gouri Banerjee Ph.D., Saheli's Co-Founder and Board Member, retired from Emmanuel College in May 2014, after a teaching career of over 20 years. She will now travel between Boston and Florida and continues to remain active in Saheli.
  • Panna Balaji Batra, Saheli’s database and web coordinator moved to Chicago to support her husband’s career. Panna will be missed greatly! 
Copyright © 2014 Saheli Boston, All rights reserved.
Mailing Address:
Saheli Boston
P.O. Box 1345
Burlington, MA 01803

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



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