Saheli works with women of all ethnicities, ages and backgrounds to ensure they can live safe, healthy and happy lives. The following are accounts of women Saheli has helped recently. To protect client confidentiality, all names have been changed.
Veena thanks Saheli Domestic Violence Advocate Salita
Heartfelt thank you to Saheli for helping me when there was no one else to help me, at the times when we were in great need. Saheli helped me, listened to me and advised me whenever I needed and lost confidence. Finally Saheli gave me much needed financial help to buy winter clothing, a laptop, and pay for online software courses in preparation for resuming my earlier career. I am becoming a confident and strong person now. I will remember all of you with gratitude, for the rest of my life! Without your help nothing was possible for me. Please let me know if I can be of any help I will be very happy.
Again thanking Saheli and will be thanking you for the rest of my life with all my heart.
Getting out of an abusive situation is only the first step.
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, Chandan secured a job as a home health care giver for an elderly South Asian women. She was glad to have a home to live in with her daughter, food and a small salary as well. Her daughter was able to enroll in a good suburban school. Helping the terminally sick elderly woman gave Chandan the much-needed skills that allowed her to progress on to her next job.
Chandan, with advice from the Saheli’s Domestic Violence Advocate, soon found employment at a local hospital and secured public housing for herself. Now living independently, and with her experience in health care and some knowledge of computers, Chandan is in the fortunate position of being able to choose from several jobs that a local hospital offered. She is currently in the process of brushing up her software skills and building up the mental fortitude to start a job in the hospital industry. Chandan knows that only she can secure the future for herself and her daughter.
Each year, significant numbers of South Asian women are abandoned overseas by their spouses
“I felt completely helpless.” Varsha’s Story
Varsha came to live in the US on an H4 visa with her husband and her child was born in the US. After 7 years of marriage, her husband abandoned her on a trip to Mumbai and left her without a passport for herself and her child. Her attempts to reach her husband failed repeatedly.
After overcoming many obstacles, Varsha was able to return to her home in Massachusetts, US, only to find that the apartment was locked. She called 911 and with the help of the local police, Varsha was put in touch with Saheli Boston. Saheli obtained free temporary housing from an Indian motel owner in her local area. During this time, trained Saheli counselors worked with Varsha to regain her life and her confidence.
A well-known South Asian lawyer advised Varsha of her legal rights in the US, and helped her to document the abuse she had experienced. Within a few months, she helped Varsha to obtain a special U visa and work permit reserved for women who can document domestic violence. Women from Saheli helped Varsha continuously over one year- finding the right lawyer, providing transportation, donating a laptop, and supporting Varsha with kindness and friendship.
Today, we are happy to share the news with you that Varsha is working legally in the United States and on her way to a safe and secure life for herself and her child.
Arranged marriages can place young women in dangerous situations. Parents often marry daughters off without careful consideration of the character of the man they choose
Fatima’s husband was unfaithful, physically and sexually abusive and used finances as a way to control and abuse his wife. Many women who seek help from Saheli suffer significant abuse when they marry men who are virtual strangers. Fatima called the Saheli helpline 1-866-4SAHELI and visited our website. Saheli counselors advised Fatima in three ways:
- To seek psychological counseling to deal with the abuse, referring Renu to a culturally-sensitive mental health professional;
- To call 911 if she feared for her life; and,
- To make a safety plan with the help of Saheli’s domestic abuse advocates. The Saheli safety plan requires a woman to collect her most important legal documents, her valuable and sentimental possessions and certificates, and put them in a safe place in case she has to leave home quickly.
Soon, Fatima’s abuse became unbearable, and knowing that she had Sahelis to support her, she called 911. When the police arrived, they observed first-hand the physical abuse this young woman had endured. Fatima was put up at a women’s shelter. Working many hours with her, Saheli volunteers helped her to obtain a legal U Visa and work permit. Saheli board members provided funds for Fatima to start on a degree program with a special Saheli fund called the Sujana Chalasani Fund for Women. Today, we’re proud to share the news that Fatima works part-time legally and has started work on her degree towards certification. She lives in a women’s shelter, works part-time and goes to school. She has almost completed her Masters degree.