Looking back at 2018, we are glad to share with you some of the important initiatives Saheli – Support and Friendship for South Asian Women and Families undertook towards fulfilling its mission of empowering South Asian women and families to lead safe and healthy lives.
Saheli expanded its legal services to the South Asian Community. In collaboration with the law firm Trupti N. Patel and Associates Saheli increased immigration assistance to the community. Saheli now organizes legal clinics and accepts appointments for consultation in family law and immigration law. Saheli also offered legal clinics for direct consultation in family law with Attorney Jerry Tutor, a retired lawyer who is a part of the Access to Justice (ATJ) Program. Attorney Tutor worked with Saheli to provide free, private, consultations twice every month and training to six Saheli staff domestic violence advocates.
Saheli was a proud recipient of four other grants in 2018. We received the Lenny Zakim Fund Grant in January to expand outreach to immigrant women from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and other South Asian communities. The funds helped us further our commitment towards providing culturally and linguistically responsive services to deal with domestic violence. Saheli could offer a legal internship with the funds it received from the Harry H. Dow Memorial Legal Assistance Fund. A grant from Lahey Hospital and Medical Center enabled Saheli to organize a multi-lingual support group targeted to South Asian women in Burlington in spring and fall. The CHNA 15 grant allowed a new initiative called the Healthy Food, Healthy Relationships program.
In May 2018, Saheli’s very own Ranjani Saigal, an integral part of Saheli’s Advisory Committee, was awarded The Lifetime Achievement Award from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Asian American Commission for her dedication towards uplifting lives of Asian Americans in Massachusetts. Saheli’s Worcester County Domestic Violence Advocate Usha Verma received an award for community service from Lokvani Media, nominated by her colleagues at the India Society of Worcester.
The year 2018 was also filled with lots of events and celebrations. In May, Saheli organized a Mother’s Day Gift Basket Drive with the help of its volunteers. We distributed 25 gift baskets filled with gift cards and other essentials to mothers facing difficult challenges in their lives, some who live alone or in shelters. On June 9, Saheli honored volunteers at its 5th annual Volunteer Appreciation Day celebrations. Towards the end of the year, in October, with the help of the Burlington Police Department Saheli held a Candlelight Vigil in the memory of people who have lost their lives to domestic violence across Massachusetts.
While 2018 was definitely eventful, more importantly, Saheli DV Advocates and Staff were busy serving clients. Saheli was able to provide assistance to one hundred and eighty-three women, and roughly three hundred children and elderly parents. The services ranged from legal advocacy, counseling, health advocacy and outreach in providing assistance in food, shelter, and transport.
Under the leadership of our new Executive Director Divya Chaturvedi, appointed in October 2018, Saheli looks forward to 2019— we are working towards facilitating new programs to increase financial literacy among women within the South Asian community, running two support groups, launching a career planning and computer literacy program in a women’s shelter and building relationships across thirty cities and towns across Eastern Massachusetts. We are also excitedly preparing for Nirbhaya, our bi-annual gala fundraiser on December 7th, 2019. The gala raises more than fifty percent of the funds that enable women and children to receive free services and financial assistance from Saheli. Keep tuned for more information on Nirbhaya. If you wish to be a volunteer in the organizing committee please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We wish you a wonderful 2019!