Just published in India Currents Magazine!
“From the Washington Post to local ABC TV news and the San Jose Mercury News, Narika has been speaking out about the need for holistic measures to end all forms of sexual violence against women” says Preeti Shekar, Executive Director of Narika. Speaking about Narika’s upcoming gala, she adds, “Narika’s gala is all about celebrating the women in our lives on the occasion of Mother’s Day.” This Mother’s Day Narika is offering the opportunity for all community members to support Narika’s mission by attending a gala celebrating women in the community. “I don’t believe there is a better way to celebrate Mother’s Day evening than with family and friends at an event dedicated to women, mothers, and future mothers” says Narika board member Alka Ramchandani.
“We tried to incorporate ideas that everyone would enjoy, such as wine tasting from new and upcoming wineries, specialty cocktails, and artisanal and organic cuisine” explains Ramchandani. The gala will feature Kern Wasan as MC, “sure to charm the socks off of every woman in the audience” adds Ramchandani, cultural performances, a celebrity style fashion show, and a talk by a survivor client of Narika. Lata Krishnan will be honored as well. “She has been an avid believer in Narika over the years. In many ways Narika has survived these twenty years because of the support of people like Lata,” reflects Ramchandani. Shekar agrees, “In a time of ongoing recession and funding cuts, grassroots groups like ours are struggling for core funding to keep us sustainable and build capacity. The gala is a great way to support us and celebrate our work… [helping] Narika remain a dynamic, flexible organization and a vital community resource.”
“Narika is going through a wonderful renewal and revival with dedicated support on our Helpline and through the re-launch of our flagship South Asian Economic Empowerment and Development program, as well as increased strategic advocacy, outreach, and community engagement,” explains Shekar. This revival comes at a crucial time, after an outpouring of outrage both in India and the US over the widely publicized fatal gang rape of a medical student in the capital in December. Meanwhile, current protests over two reported child rapes in Delhi and Madhya Pradesh are making international headlines.
Violence against women is not only a concern in India, however. “My vision for Narika is to get to a place where the community acknowledges that abuse happens and therefore steps up to remedy the situation” says Gayathri Sundar, Narika board member. “Even today as we Indian Americans are emulated as a model immigrant community known for middle class values of hard work, commitment to excellence, entrepreneurship and high regard for education… yet like all other communities there exists domestic violence in our families and men, women, and children suffer ultimately because of violence” explains Sundar. Narika staff and volunteers serve women from the Bay Area’s South Asian community. Women from across a spectrum of religious, cultural, and class backgrounds, including both recent immigrants and third generation professionals, turn to Narika for support.
“The lives of survivors is deeply instructive. It is remarkable how they put the pieces of their lives together with limited help from Narika… that is not only very uplifting by also inspires me tremendously to continue to volunteer for Narika” says Sundar. Although domestic violence is a challenging dynamic to confront and unravel, it is the success stories of the women who succeed that energizes and sustains volunteers. Several former clients remain committed to the organization, volunteering in a variety of different ways to support Narika.
I recently went on a South Asian Radical History Walking Tour with Anirvan Chatterjee and Barnali Ghosh, which highlighted the history of South Asians in Berkeley since the early 1900’s. One of the designated stops commemorated the labor and sex trafficking victims of the Lakireddy Bali Reddy case, and we discussed Narika’s involvement in the case and advocacy for the victims. Narika is part of the historical fabric of the Bay Area, born from the experience of the South Asian community here. “What made Narika possible was the simple fact that a group of young, educated, and enlightened South Asian immigrant women came together 21 years ago to address the issue of domestic violence in our communities when the latent issue of abuse or family violence was not talked about or even acknowledged by community members,” reflects Sundar.
There is still high demand for the work Narika does, yet there’s a sense this is an important moment to pause and celebrate. “We have gone through tough fiscal times like most nonprofits, yet it is the commitment of our current board, staff, and volunteers to continue the work as long as the community needs our services” concludes Sundar. This Mother’s Day is a chance to reflect, celebrate, and support Narika. “There are many ways we get wonderful support for Narika’s work from the community; volunteers on our Helpline and volunteer instructors for our SEED program and for individual projects, but supporting our gala is a terrific way for our supporters and allies to ensure our long-term sustainability” finishes Shekar.
Narika Mother’s Day Gala
Sunday, May 12, 5pm
India Community Center
525 Los Coches Blvd., Milpitas
Tickets start at $250