We are excited to welcome our new Co-Executive Director, Savitha Rajiv. Savitha oversees community relationships and outreach programs including the domestic violence prevention and education program. She brings over 14 years of experience working in the non-profit organization called North-South Foundation, a national organization serving South Asian youth and families. Savitha has a M.S. degree in Computer Science from Tufts University and has worked as a software engineer at some of the major hi-tech companies in the country.
The following is an interview with Savitha.
Q: Please tell us a little about your background. What past experiences inspired you?
A: Youngest of three, my brothers and I grew up in Bangalore. My dad is a retired Captain from the Indian Army, and together with my mom taught us strong work ethics, the value of an education, and the importance of helping others. I now reside in Westford with my husband Rajiv and our two boys. Rohit is a sophomore at Carnegie Mellon and Suraj is a freshman at Westford Academy.
Q: What volunteer and nonprofit experiences did you have before joining Saheli?
A: I have been involved with a non-profit organization called North South Foundation (NSF) for about 15 years now. NSF conducts educational bees in the US to raise funds and sponsor college education for economically disadvantaged kids in India. I am the Zonal Coordinator for the Northeast region and oversees the operations of the chapters in my zone. I am also on the National Team that continually strives to introduce new and improve existing services of the organization. It has been a rewarding experience to give back to my country and make a positive impact in someone’s life.
I have also served as the Vice President on the middle school PTA, on the school committee and as the Team Manager of Destination Imagination teams that won several prestigious awards.
Q: What inspired you to join Saheli?
A: When I put my career on hold for my kids, it was a tough decision. I had worked hard to get to where I was and I loved my job as a software engineer. But I found that serving the community and making a positive impact in someone’s life was a far more rewarding and meaningful experience.
Gandhiji once said “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”.
So, when the opportunity to work for an organization like Saheli presented itself, I did not have to think twice about it! Saheli was born to tackle one of the toughest and most dangerous issue our society has been facing for a long time – domestic violence. With the number of cases of domestic violence constantly rising, more so in the South Asian community, organizations like Saheli are there to help the women who face domestic violence become strong and independent and have the ability to say “No More.” Joining Saheli’s dedicated team of staff and volunteers, I look forward to empowering these women and making our community a little safer every day.
Q: What is your vision for Saheli? Where would you like to take the organization?
A: My vision for Saheli is to increase its visibility in the community. There is still a significant percentage of South Asian population that has not heard about Saheli and the work that it does. By increasing Saheli’s presence in the social media space & partnering with SA organizations we will be able to help more families.
We have plans to educate law enforcement, educational institutions & hospital staff about the cultural aspects and challenges unique to South Asians, so they are equipped with the information needed to help and direct the women in crisis, to Saheli.
We will also educate our community about domestic violence and work towards removing the stigma attached to reaching out to an organization like Saheli, hence reducing the assaults, abuses and fatalities in our South Asian community.
Q: Do you have any advice for our readers?
A: Yes! As immigrants, when we leave our families back home and come to this country, our friends become our family. If you know someone who is facing abuse or has been abandoned, direct them to Saheli. They can call our free and confidential helpline: 1-866-472-4354. We have a team of experienced, passionate and dedicated Domestic Violence advocates to help. All our services are offered at no cost to our clients.
Donate – your time, your services, your money! Together we can make our community safe and free from violence.