The Voice for South Asians affected by Family Violence | February 2023
A Message from the BoardDear Supporters,
Hope 2023 brings you all an abundance of good health and happiness. Our Awaaz team has been busy helping clients throughout the holidays and back to outreach activities since January. As we look forward to working towards taking our communities a step closer to ending Domestic Violence (DV) this year, we would like to start by giving you a breakdown of our activities in 2022.
Awaaz Annual Report for 2022
Awaaz has been busy working with new and returning clients. Like other DV awareness organizations, we saw an increase in client calls in 2022. Earlier, the pandemic had isolated many of them with their abusers disabling them from reaching out for help. Those of you who have helped us with clients are aware of the amount of complicated work and time it takes a single client from crises to self-reliance and empowerment. What complicates it further is that we have to juggle extreme discretion and sensitivity with networking and coming together as a village to be effective. Needless to say, Awaaz advocates were completely engaged directly with our clients while other members of the Board, and the larger team, were busy finding us more financial, housing, legal and counseling resources. Thanks to a few grants and private donations, via Giving Tuesday and The Big Give online fundraisers in September and November respectively, we were able to help more clients directly thanks to donors. We were able to organize a clothing, linen, and household items drive to help resettle a survivor leaving the shelter with her children. We paid for a few months of rent, few nights of motel stay, courses, computers, school supplies, medical visits, incidental supplies, clothing, food, transportation and even one semester of college tuition for someone getting back on her feet. Some clients were able to use the courses they took towards starting small businesses or as a spring board to higher education. We were also able to cover some legal fees for a couple of the survivors.
We successfully connected some survivors with pro-bono legal and other counselling services. Heartfelt thanks to The Texas Advocacy Project (TAP) as well as Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid (TRGLA). A very special thanks to the Family Violence Prevention Services of San Antonio (Battered Women and Children Shelter) where quite a few of our clients found shelter and services for themselves and their children.
Whereas in 2020 and 2021 we organized informative and engaging webinars with speakers, writers. and social workers from around the US, we were able to participate in two in person seminars in 2022. In March we participated in Women's Empowerment Day sponsored by the India Association of San Antonio at their Community Center. We made a presentation about DV when a victim reaches out for help, and pondering the impact of actually listening and giving the benefit of the doubt to them. It was an honor to be sharing the stage with a group of incredible women from our community who are all leaders in their various fields. In March we also participated in a public event organized by the Asian Pacific Islanders of San Antonio to stand up with our fellow Asian Americans to denounce DV and general abuse of basic human rights. We continue with our efforts to educate about DV and reach out to people within and outside the community to find more resources for our clients. In August we hosted a Meet and Greet fundraiser where we made a presentation about DV in general and in South Asian communities in particular. We showed a video based on a client’s story, made by Awaaz in collaboration with Pink Umbrella, a DV Awareness non-profit based in Australia. One of our clients eloquently narrated her incredible story of trials and triumphs that left the audience gasping and inspired. She emphasized the need to have South Asian organizations such as Awaaz in our community, and gave a detailed account of how it took the proverbial village to get her to where she was today. Bharti took the lead in showcasing a few stunning pieces of Indian clothing for sale, while Jyotsna, Zehera and Madhu put together a few unique items for an auction such as hotel and travel giveaways, as well as photographs and paintings by local artistes made specifically for Awaaz. It was wonderful to see some of our community leaders at the event, including officers of the India Association and various South Asian regional communities of San Antonio, Patricia Castillo of P.E.A.C.E Initiative and Judge Rosie Speedling Gonzalez.
Training Sessions/Community Events
Thanks to our advisor and mentor Jane Shafer we continued to meet our team and new volunteers online and individually for training. Jane conducted interactive sessions as well as brought in experts from mainstream DV organizations for advanced training. She invited an attorney from the Family Justice Center (FJC) to talk about protective orders, and a highly experienced advocate from the P.E.A.C.E. Initiative of San Antonio who spoke to us about the effect of DV in children. We were able to organize one in person session in May. Powerful testimony was provided by a young survivor about her journey from despair to hope and empowerment. In June we were Invited by SAINA (San Antonio Indian Nurses Association) to speak at their annual event.
In September Awaaz hosted a volunteer appreciation luncheon at the Olive Garden. It was wonderful to get together with this vibrant team on a more social and personal level. In October some of our volunteers and advisor Roxanne Ponce represented Awaaz at Milan, a community cultural event. In November we were invited by the India Association of San Antonio to host an informational booth at India Fest. Our team was happy to meet and engage folks from diverse backgrounds.
In June the Awaaz Team participated in the 20th Annual Legal Alliance for Survivors of Abuse conference hosted by the Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid (TRGLA) in San Antonio.
Awaaz’s President Madhu and Secretary Jyotsna attended APIAHF's (The Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum) VOICES 2022 Conference in Washington DC in October. It was an excellent opportunity to learn about the efforts of national organizations towards DV policy, community engagement, and capacity building to serve the Asian and Pacific Islander community across the country. It was also an opportunity to meet with sister organizations of Texas and California to discuss issues faced by DV organizations in Texas and how to approach State legislators to inform them about legislative priorities of concern. Our team met with Sean McAndrews, a legislative assistant to Rep. Chip Roy (TX-21) to discuss common concerns about trauma.
Awaaz members continue to meet with Texas Coalition for Asian Survivors, led by AFSSA to work with TCFV (Texas Council on Family Violence) on supporting legislative priorities that support victims of gender-based violence. In November we also met with a branch of the coalition that focuses on Muslim DV/SV survivors.
Due to limited human resources and our overwhelming schedules with clients and administrative and outreach activities, we are seldom able to organize fundraisers. In 2022 however we were able to host a silent auction/clothing sales at the Awaaz event in August. We also participated in the Big Give and Giving Tuesday fundraisers online and we were able to help more clients directly. We also were able to organize a clothing, linen and household items drive to help resettle a survivor leaving the shelter with her children.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of Awaaz, as we are still an all-volunteer led organization. We were joined by a few enthusiastic and skilled volunteers in 2022. Awaaz endeavors to train all its volunteers in basic DV knowledge, as well as outreach and networking. The following volunteers joined us are a:
MBA student and HR professional were added to the social media team.
Data analyst who has started gathering data to help increase our presence in the community and build strategies.
Nurse practitioner who’s working actively in outreach as she trains to work as an advocate for our clients.
Former volunteer working in the IT department of the Salvation Army Shelters is back with us managing our tables at events and getting ready to help us in other areas.
Amongst the various daily chores, capacity building and strategizing the administrators on our Board created a volunteer management team in 2022. They have also placed a job posting on LinkedIn for an Executive Director, and have joined and been active in a coalition group with other sister organizations of Texas. We were also able to renew our work on the website and hire a website expert with our core team member Toral Patel leading the effort.
Strategic Goals for 2023
Increase our outreach and fundraising events
Enhance and maintain website
Improve data gathering and data analysis
Acquire a small office space
Hire an Executive Director
Improve Volunteer management
As we have said many times before, our volunteers are what makes Awaaz effective in serving the marginalized segments of our communities. Even as we celebrate our strengths, rich and powerful cultures, let’s not neglect those who have been victimized and rendered weak and cannot celebrate as they have no voice. Please help us help them get their voices and their strengths back, and empower our communities further. Do reach out to us to learn more about Awaaz and how you can help.
The Awaaz Board of Directors
Ami's Corner for Legal Empowerment
A federal judge in TX recently held that it is no longer constitutional to ban people who are under a domestic violence protection order to own a gun. U.S. District Judge Counts ruled that banning those under a protective order from possessing a gun infringes on their Second Amendment rights. This ruling comes after a Supreme Court decision where the Court held that courts going forward should uphold gun restrictions only if there is a tradition of them in U.S. history. While for about three decades, a judge could ban an individual under a protective order from owning a gun, it is no longer the case in the Western District of Texas, which includes San Antonio. If your abuser owns a gun, now more than ever, we encourage you to work with a Sahiyo advocate to put a safety plan in place. Also, work with your attorney to see if they are able to get the abuser to agree to give up their firearms.
To read the full article written by Johnathan Gooch from the Express-News click here.
India Fest sponsored by IASA on October 29 at Rolling Oaks mall
SOAR Member Training - Intersection of IPV & Gun Violence
Tannuja Rozario hosted an informative webinar earlier this month on Intersections of Intimate Partner Violence and Gun Violence as she provided informative facts and statics. She is the Associate Director of Research at Everytown for Gun Safety. Currently, she conducts research on the intersections of gun violence, reproductive health, intimate partner violence, suicide, and the non-physical impacts of guns everywhere.