Saheli Sandesh June 2013 Newsletter
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Saheli Sandesh Newsletter June 2013

A note from the Editor

I am pleased to introduce Saheli's new look! This edition of the Saheli Sandesh Newsletter will update you on an exciting flurry of activities from a changing of the guards to new outreach ventures, and much more. From January 2013-May, we have served over 56 clients logging in 325 hours in direct services and advocacy, elected new Board Members, revamped our website and focused our energies on strengthening our ability to reach South Asian women and their families. Saheli's free Computer Class for Empowering Women graduated 17 students in May. Under the leadership of Saheli Deepika Madan, the popularity of the class in Waltham continues to grow.

A big part of the organization is volunteer recruitment and engagement, streamlining the work of the board, and improving board meetings and attendance. If you are able to contribute volunteer time to Saheli, please let us know.
The most defining moment of recent months came with the brutal rape and murder of a young woman, "Nirbhaya" in New Delhi, India. The senseless act of brutality brought home to us the vulnerability of South Asian women and strengthened our resolve to further gender empowerment. Women have the right to be "nirbhaya," or free from the fear of violence. Sahelis took part in a candelight vigil in Harvard Square, demonstrating our commitment to women's safety. Our annual fundraiser Nirbhaya, on September 20, 2013, will be dedicated to advocating against violence and for freedom from fear. Please join us to show your support.

We have gone for a new look and branding-lift, but we have remained true to our core mission of providing support and services. We have spread the word about ourselves at community events, and support the efforts of partner organizations with human interest goals. We aim to improve our outreach, increase our presence in the community, and enhance our support to South Asian women and their families.

Last but not least, Saheli received four grants this year to support and enable the services we are able to provide. Grantors included the Lenny Zakim Fund, Jane Do, Inc., The Saffron CIrcle, and Blue Cross Blue Shield Catalyst Fund. We would like to convey our deep appreciation of the support of our funders, and of the community leaders who wrote letters of support on behalf of Saheli to our grantors.
Thank you for your support,

Sreemoti Mukerjee-Roy
Voluntary Editor

Nirbhaya- Saheli Annual Fundraiser!

Join us for a spectacular evening of entertainment, networking and fun on September 20, 2013 at the Westin Waltham Hotel. Proceeds will support Saheli's efforts to empower South Asian women and their families. Well-known South Asian community leaders are organizing and supporting the fundraiser. NPR's Meghna Chakrabarti will be the Master of Ceremonies.

Save the date and stay tuned for further details!

Upcoming Events

The Effects of Domestic Violence on Healthy Eating
2:30pm, Burlington Senior Center

Domestic Violence Advocates Meeting
6pm, Burlington Public Library

Nirbhaya- Saheli Annual Fundraiser
6:30pm, Westin Waltham Hotel

Statistics from Jan-May 2013

56 New Domestic Violence Cases
68 Ongoing Domestic Violence Cases
325 Total Advocate hours spent

Sahelis at the June South Asian Woman of the Year Award Ceremony

What we have been up to

January began with a changing of the guard. We bid farewell to Seema Shenoy, our Coordinator who did a superb job of keeping us informed and connected through the years and welcomed Nivedita Bonie Bagchi-Williamson as Saheli's new Coordinator.  Many thanks to Seema for her dedication and good wishes in her new venture, and a big welcome to Bonie who comes to us with an outstanding resume of accomplishments and an infectious enthusiasm for empowering women.
On the 12th of January, Saheli hosted Dr. Sailaja Reddy, an internist, who gave a talk on healthy food and healthy lifestyles. January also saw the much-awaited launch of Saheli's new website. Designed by Saheli Joya Banerjee of GBCHealth of New York, it is easily navigable, well organized, and esthetically pleasing -  a much needed criteria for generating internet traffic and interest.  Check it out at
Saheli hosted a table at the Republic Day Celebrations organized by the Indian Association of Greater Boston (IAGB), in January.  Tea and water were sold and flowers donated by a Saheli floral designer were auctioned off to raise funds. Candles were lit in remembrance of Nirbhaya, the Delhi rape victim. Our ongoing free Computer Literacy Classes continue to provide South Asian women with crucial skills for self-sufficiency and career development.
In March, Saheli held its Board elections for 2013-2015.  Three new members Parul Kapoor, Puneetha Palakurthi and Manish Patel, the first male Board member, joined the Board.  Election commissioners Kaplesh Kumar, Ram Voruganti, and Anil Sahgal provided invaluable services by keeping everyone on tenterhooks until it was time for full disclosure. Saheli received a grant from the Lenny Zakim Fund for capacity building. The March fundraiser Shaam-e-Burman concert of SD and RD Burman songs was a smashing success. The South Asian community spent an evening awash in nostalgia, re-living the songs of a bygone era!  A part of the proceeds were donated to us.      
Saheli Co-Founder Gouri Banerjee spoke about the organization's work toward reducing isolation among senior South Asians at a conference on elder abuse organized by Minuteman Elder Services in Bedford, Massachusetts. Sahelis Bonie and Gouri conducted a workshop for student groups at Emmanuel College about challenges of dating relationships and arranged marriages. The workshops are a part of the Saheli initiative to advocate for reducing violence against women among a younger  population from an earlier age.
April was an event-filled month, the highlight being the Volunteer Appreciation Day on April 13th. Aimed at attracting and retaining volunteers, it  was a fun-filled event and a part of Saheli's capacity building initiative. There were about 40 participants who brainstormed in small groups and offered great ideas for development and effectiveness. Local businesses partnered with us to offer free services and food. We thank Joan Turnberg, for the  free Nia session, Sonal Khakkar of Bollywood Delights for free and yummy ice-cream company, and the Diva Restaurant in Somerville for samosas and pakoras!
Saheli Usha Vakil attended the Indian Political Forums talk on Violence. And on April 27th, Saheli's Shrewsbury Chapter hosted the India Society of Worcester and the Indian Circle of Caring (ICC). It was a highly informative session that gave a great overview of the assistance and services provided by these volunteer organizations. 

Introducing Bonie

Please join us in extending a warm welcome to our new Program and Volunteer Coordinator, Nivedita "Bonie" Bagchi Williamson! Bonie is responsible for day-to-day coordination of five areas of services- domestic violence, immigration and legal rights, health education, economic empowerment classes and volunteer opportunities. She monitors the Saheli helpline, manages the Saheli e-group, Facebook Group and newsletters, and organizes monthly meetings.

Bonie has served as a senior administrator and educator in higher education in the Greater Boston area including Boston University and  UMASS Boston, to name a few. She has a Ph.D. in English from Boston University,  and a Bachelors from St. Xavier's College in Kolkata, India. She is trained in the issues of race, class, and gender, and the dynamics of disempowerment and empowerment. She looks forward to her new role at Saheli in assisting and empowering South Asian women in the Greater Boston area. She can be reached at
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Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 1345

Burlington, MA 01803