In the spirit of Women's History Month, the March 2012 newsletter is dedicated to the amazing women of Apna Ghar - past, present and future!
For ten years, Naiyer-Ji was the first voice you heard when you called Apna Ghar. She embodied the spirit of the founding mothers with her wisdom and dedication. Read the courageous story of Vijaya who escaped her abuser when she became pregnant with twins. Be inspired by the talent of our "young" people such as Gabrielle, Apna Ghar's AVODAH Corps Member who infuses enthusiasm and energy in all she does.
March 8 was International Women's Day. It is an occasion to review how far women have come in the struggle for equality, peace and development. The elimination of violence in our homes (neighborhood, community, village, city, etc...) through legislation (VAWA), enforcement, and education is the tangible evidence of our work and progress.
We KNOW that securing peace, social progress, human rights and fundamental freedoms in the world requires the active participation of each of us. Apna Ghar's work would not be possible without your continued support. I thank you.
Please make everyday your own International Women's Day.
In solidarity and service,
Serena Chen Low
| Kulsum Ameji: CFW Honoree|
By: Neha Gill
Apna Ghar staff member Neha Gill (left), Kulsum Ameji (center), and former Apna Ghar staff member Elizabeth Sherman (right) at CFW Event
On March 15, 2012, the Chicago Foundation for Women honored one of Apna Ghar's strongest allies, Kulsum Ameji, with the 2012 Impact Award for her work defending women's rights using the rule of law.
Kulsum has been part of Apna Ghar's extended family for nearly a decade now. She has served on the associate board, is a dedicated supporter, and for the past eight years, she has worked formally with Apna Ghar through a partnership with the Legal Assistance Foundation (LAF) where she serves as a staff attorney. Currently LAF, Apna Ghar, and KANWIN (Korean American Women in Need) are partners in a project funded by the Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women to provide legal services to survivors of domestic violence.
Kulsum says that, "though there have been times when the work has been challenging, there have been moments of true inspiration and accomplishment as well," such as when she saw a former client last summer in California. The client was happily remarried with two children. She was safe, content and clearly living a successful life. For Kulsum, seeing how far this client had come was truly inspiring. Kulsum adds that Apna Ghar and KANWIN staff work tirelessly to provide exceptional culturally competent services to Asian and other immigrant survivors, and she sees this award as recognition for all our collective work.
For more information about the 2012 Impact Awards and to learn more about Kulsum and the other honorees, visit http://www.cfw.org/IMPACT.
| Pakistani Women Political Leaders at Apna Ghar: Culture and Activism|
By: Neda Ansaari
|February 2, 2012 - Pakistani Delegation|
visits Apna Ghar
On Friday, February 10, 2012, we welcomed six Pakistani women political leaders to Apna Ghar. The women were part of a delegation sponsored by the US Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program. Their aim was to meet with fellow leaders in the United States to explore the role of women as agents of social and political change. In particular, they were interested in hearing how they, as government and political leaders, could collaborate with non-governmental women's rights organizations in their country to integrate the concerns of women into the political discourse.
At Apna Ghar, the delegates focused on policies and programs to prevent domestic abuse and violence against women. They engaged Apna Ghar staff and board members in an in-depth discussion of the agency's role in the community and the special needs and challenges that come with serving immigrants from South Asian and other countries. The women leaders felt that domestic violence was an important and relevant topic to explore within the context of women's rights and legislative advocacy. Apna Ghar staff and board provided perspective on how some of the problems are tackled in United States programmatically and through legislation, such as the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and the Illinois Domestic Violence Act (IDVA).
The women leaders were hosted in Chicago by WorldChicago. Apna Ghar has collaborated with WorldChicago since November 2010 to host similar international delegations and individuals, including two legal fellows from Tajikistan and Bangladesh in April 2011.
| Calendar of Events|
March - National Women's History Month
April 21 - 40-hour Domestic Violence Training
4753 N. Broadway
Chicago, IL 60640
- Taste for LifeRiver East Art Center
435 E. Illinois St.
Chicago, IL 60611
6:00 - 10:00 PMJune TBD
- Volunteer Appreciation DinnerJune TBD
- Stride Against Violence Kick-Off Event for Team CaptainsSeptember 30
- Stride Against Violence 5kMontrose Harbor
*If interested in becoming a team captain, please contact Ashley Tsuruda, Event Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org
or (773) 334-0173 x226.
| Top Chef contestant Beverly Kim headlines a night of food and fun at the 4th Annual Taste for Life|
Chef Beverly Kim
You be the
judge! For the first time ever, Taste for Life will feature a LIVE cooking competition- Chefs for Life. You could join Chef Beverly Kim, Bill Daley, food and wine critic at the Chicago Tribune, and Alpana Singh, host of Check, Please!, as a judge at the Chefs for Life cooking competition. One judge's seat will be auctioned off at the event! Our competing chefs - Suzy Singh, Master Chef contestant and owner of Suzy's Samosas, Hiran Patel, executive chef at Klay Oven Kitchen, and Martin Cabrera, restaurant consultant and mixologist - will each whip up a creative dish using a mystery basket of ingredients. You and your fellow judges will decide who wins.
JOIN US at Taste for Life on April 26 and support women as they reclaim, rebuild, and renew their lives.
Get your tickets today!
Taste for LifeApril 26, 2012
5:30 - 6:30 PM VIP Reception
6:00 - 10:00 PM General Admission
River East Art Center
435 E. Illinois St., Chicago, IL 60611
| Volunteer Opportunities|
- General office work
- Development volunteer
- Special projects
- Event support
- Web Developer
Volunteers Requiring 40 Hour Training
- Shelter support
- Hotline support
More Info on 40-Hour Training
| Keep in Touch with Apna Ghar|
| Stories from Our Home|
Vijaya* was pregnant when she escaped her abusive partner. Though it was difficult, she knew that leaving was the only way to keep her child safe. Vijaya's first stop was Apna Ghar's emergency shelter. When she arrived at the shelter, Vijaya was welcomed by a case manager. Once she was settled, Vijaya's case manager started helping her access public benefits for prenatal care. She also helped Vijaya identify the services of a free doula to support her during her pregnancy, childbirth, and post-natal period. Only a month after entering the shelter, Vijaya found out she was pregnant with twins!
Recognizing that Vijaya needed a safe, happy, and stable environment during her pregnancy, Apna Ghar invited her to extend her stay at the shelter until her babies were born and strong enough to make the transition to independent housing. Vijaya's twins were born six months after she entered our emergency shelter. They came straight from the hospital to the safety of "Our Home." Shelter staff helped Vijaya care for her babies in their first days and even accompanied them to their very first medical appointment. Vijaya's case manager continued to help her find and secure independent housing.
Two months after her twins were born, Vijaya signed the lease to her own apartment. Today, she and her children are living happy, healthy lives.
*Names and identifying details have been changed to protect client confidentiality
Read More Stories
| Creating Home: Reflections from an AVODAH Corps Member|
By: Gabrielle Friedman
Gabrielle Friedman (left) with Neha Gill (right)
As a legal advocate with Apna Ghar, I share information with immigrant survivors of gender-based violence about their rights so that they can seek remedies and protections. I refer them to pro-bono and legal aid attorneys and I provide emotional support at court dates. In some cases, I provide interpretation and translation for French-speaking clients from Africa so that they can communicate with their attorneys or voice their stories in an affidavit.
When I'm not at Apna Ghar, I live in an intentional Jewish community. I travel from our bayit to apna ghar-from our home to our home. I came to Apna Ghar through AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps. Through this placement, I have found new strength in my spirituality. I say the words of the Hashkiveinu, "Spread over us the shelter of your peace," and I feel supported in my hope for the protection of all people.
The survivors who are my clients belong to different ethnicities, religions, and cultures, and they speak many different languages. Although their journeys are diverse, each woman has found a home at Apna Ghar. While their voices and stories are unique, their choice to confide in me is shared. In this way, my clients teach me about their experience, and I learn enough to provide them with accurate information and appropriate referrals. I respect their choices and support them in their goals.
At Apna Ghar, I witness courage, generosity, resourcefulness, resilience, and determination. I speak with women who are brave enough to share what felt private, to refuse to be victims, and to voice their needs. These women trust me to be their advocate although I do not speak their language, may never have lived in their country, or met someone from their culture. I see women determined to claim their rights, protect themselves and their children, and find ways to heal from trauma. I see women who are resilient in the face of adversity, and who draw upon internal strengths, community, friends, family, and education as resources that allow them to thrive. Despite experiencing abuse that alienated them from society and undermined their sense of self, the women I know here are achieving belonging and independence. These women are determined to live happy and healthy lives.
The partnership between Apna Ghar and AVODAH has grounded me. From the women who are my clients, I have learned that we can create a home when we build caring and safe relationships-which require taking good care of ourselves. There is no more that I could have asked for this year beyond feeling at home in an imperfect world. Gabrielle Friedman, from Newton, MA, attended Middlebury College. She works at Apna Ghar as a legal advocate through her placement with AVODAH Chicago. AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps strengthens the Jewish community's fight against the causes and effects of poverty in the United States by engaging participants in service and community building that inspire them to become lifelong agents for social change, whose work for justice is rooted in and nourished by Jewish values.
| Naiyer Rafathullah|
On February 3, 2012, Apna Ghar staff and board were deeply saddened to hear of Naiyer Rafathullah's passing. Naiyer was a dedicated member of the extended Apna Ghar family from October 1996 to October 2006 serving as the office manager and 40 hour domestic violence training and volunteer coordinator.
Naiyer was a person of admirable courage and conviction who embodied her beliefs. Clients, staff, and board alike respected her and enjoyed being in her presence. Naiyer was very accomplished, having had a long career in teaching and radio broadcasting prior to joining Apna Ghar. She was also multilingual, adeptly moving between English, Urdu, and Arabic in service of our clients.
According to Asma Waheed, Apna Ghar's current office administrator, "as the first point of contact, Naiyer was a voice of assurance and comfort to clients seeking Apna Ghar's assistance. Though she can never be replaced, she leaves behind an important legacy. An example for us to strive towards and to emulate in our own work." Dr. Rambha Radhakrishnan, current board president says that Naiyer was "the voice and face of Apna Ghar," and she remembers fondly her calm demeanor and always smiling face. Naiyer genuinely loved being at Apna Ghar, where she touched the lives of many, and we will miss her dearly. We offer our deepest condolences to her children, grandchildren and the rest of her extended family.
On November 14, 2010, Naiyer was recognized with an award for her outstanding contributions to Apna Ghar at our 20th anniversary event, "a milestone in our journey of hope."
"All of us - men and women, soldiers and peacekeepers, citizens and leaders - have a responsibility to help end violence against women. States must honor their commitments to prevent violence, bring perpetrators to justice and provide redress to victims. And each of us must speak out in our families, workplaces and communities, so that acts of violence against women cease."
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
International Women's Day 2009