A New Moment for Our Youth: Launch of Youth Mental Health Counseling Program

Sakhi for South Asian Women Receives $300,000 Gift from The Ramesh and Kalpana Bhatia Family Foundation to Become First New York City-Based South Asian Organization to Offer Youth Mental Health Counseling

New York, NY,  November 20, 2019 – Sakhi for South Asian Women (Sakhi), an award-winning nonprofit that combats gender-based violence in NYC’s South Asian community, announced today that it had received a gift of $300,000 from The Ramesh and Kalpana Bhatia Family Foundation, which will directly support Sakhi’s ongoing efforts to address the needs of the community they serve by expanding their youth programs and services. The funds will enable Sakhi to launch and sustain a new Youth Mental Health Counseling Program by adding a certified mental health counselor to their staff to work with youth survivors.

In recent years, Sakhi has witnessed a rise in child survivors—either first-hand or second-hand survivors—seeking services. The trauma that they experience in their youth is often unprocessed, leading to adverse outcomes in adulthood. This new program will create a necessary space for healing and a pathway toward a stronger future for the community. Sakhi will become the first South Asian organization in New York City to offer youth mental health counseling and fulfill this demonstrated need.

“Because of the magnitude of this gift and the generosity of The Ramesh and Kalpana Bhatia Family Foundation, Sakhi will be able to address a growing need in the New York City South Asian community, and create a new moment for our youth,” said Sakhi’s Executive Director Kavita Mehra. “We are confident that serving youth in this new capacity will make us a more resilient organization that can better support our community. Our vision for the future is to further engage in community-based work, organizing, and mobilization, while continuing to provide critical services to the diaspora and lowering the barrier-to-entry by being in and of the community. With the support of The Ramesh and Kalpana Bhatia Family Foundation, we are taking a crucial step in that direction.”

The new Youth Mental Health Counseling Program will address a service gap that Sakhi encounters daily. This gift will allow for the full development and sustainability of the program over the course of three years, which will officially launch in 2020.

We have been so honored to be able to support Sakhi’s unwavering commitment to survivors who have and continue to experience senseless violence and injustice,” said Anita Bhatia, Executive Director of The Ramesh and Kalpana Bhatia Family Foundation. “Seeing the direct impact our charitable dollars had made us want to pursue a longer-term partnership with Sakhi, and thus a new Youth Mental Health Counseling Program was born. Collectively, we recognized a gap in the services offered and the need to create a safe space for children that have witnessed or have themselves experienced violence. We are confident that this mental health program will not only help break the cycle of abuse for today’s youth, but also for future generations.”

Sakhi for South Asian Women exists to represent the South Asian diaspora in a survivor-led movement for gender-justice and to honor the collective and inherent power of all survivors of violence. Sakhi is committed to serving survivors through a combination of efforts including—but not limited to—direct services, advocacy and organizing, technical assistance, and community outreach.

Founded in 1989 by a group of five South Asian women—Anannya Bhattacharjee, Mallika Dutt, Tula Goenka, Geetanjali Misra, and Romita Shetty—who were from diverse professional fields such as banking, film, law, and public health, Sakhi, meaning “woman friend,” was created to fill a critical need. In spite of an abundance of religious and cultural centers, professional associations, and ethnic-specific groups within New York’s large South Asian immigrant population, there was no place for survivors to address the oft-silenced subject of gender-based violence. Through Sakhi’s efforts to serve survivors and mobilize community members to condemn abuse, Sakhi has changed the conversation on gender-based violence in our community.


The Ramesh and Kalpana Bhatia Family Foundation, founded in 2006,  is a private family foundation established by Ramesh and Kalpana Bhatia. The Foundation is dedicated to making an impactful change around the world by funding innovative solutions and programs that enrich the communities and serve the common good. The Foundation’s grant making focuses on local, national, and international organizations that support education, mental health, human rights, women’s health, poverty reduction and more.