Adapting Our Services throughout the COVID-19 Outbreak

[et_pb_section fb_built=”1″ _builder_version=”4.0.11″][et_pb_row _builder_version=”4.0.11″][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”4.0.11″][et_pb_text _builder_version=”4.0.11″]

Out of concern for public health and safety, Sakhi has temporarily reduced the office flow in our Manhattan and Queens offices. In this challenging moment, we seek to be as responsive and proactive as possible. 

Our programs are more important now than ever, and we have shifted many of them to function remotely. Advocates are available to support clients over the phone. Our mental health counselor is working to reach as many clients as possible through tele-therapy sessions. Additionally, legal services will be moved to the phone.

As we see images of empty shelves in grocery stores city-wide, we know that our Food Justice Program, which is fully stocked, is a crucial asset to clients. Cash Assistance, especially for those who are hourly-wage workers, is also a lifeline for many at the moment. If you need to connect with an advocate, please contact Anusha Goossens at .

This public health crisis serves both to showcase and exacerbate immense inequalities and disparities.

95% of clients who come to Sakhi are recent immigrants, 10% are undocumented, 80% are mothers
 and 75% reside below the federal poverty level. One’s immigration status, poverty level, and need to care for dependents–whether they be children, parents or others–can compound the threat of this virus. Many clients are hourly workers without paid sick leave or access to childcare services, and many have tenuous immigration statuses.

One of the most weighty reasons for physically closing our doors has to do with an issue many clients face: unequal access to healthcare and medical services. Many clients we serve who do not have access to affordable healthcare, meaning they would not be covered in the event that they were infected. While the majority of our clients do receive some kind of health coverage through medicaid, there is a significant, vulnerable population who do not qualify for anything beyond emergency care.  Please note: those who are working in industries that have now been forced to shut (e.g. restaurants, stores, gyms, etc.) can apply for unemployment benefits. If you work in one of these establishments, please reach out to an Economic Empowerment Advocate and we will support you with your application. It is imperative that you call ASAP, as you will need to apply within 7 days of losing your job due to COVID-19-related closures in order to receive benefits.

Relegated to their homes, many folks are currently facing increased domestic violence. We must do our part to be vigilant community members and check in on our neighbors. This is a crucial moment to make extra effort to support and connect with others. While remaining aware of necessary physical distancing, we recognize that we cannot socially disengage with one another. Whenever safe, we also suggest calling, video chatting, texting, and even writing letters to friends and loved ones.

In times of crisis, it is imperative that we support our community members. Many survivors may face the loss of their housing or their jobs in the coming months. Women, mothers, immigrants,  and survivors are amongst the most vulnerable at this time, and we must continue to go the extra mile with them. If you are interested in supporting Sakhi’s Food Justice Program with specific item donations, please contact Vidula Pant at .

Sakhi’s Helpline continues to operate as usual at 1 (212) 868-6741, and we are still receiving emails with requests for information and support.

If you need support, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline Call 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-799-7233 for TTY. The Hotline is available 24/7, every day. If you are unable to speak safely, you can also text LOVEIS to 22522 or log onto thehotline.org.

During this time, we encourage those at risk of facing abuse to consider the guidelines laid out in our statement. Read our full statement on the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on South Asian survivors in New York City. As the situation changes, we will continue to provide important updates.

We wish you all safety and good health.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row _builder_version=”4.0.11″][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”4.0.11″][et_pb_text _builder_version=”4.0.11″]

Here, we lay out our concerns and considerations as an organization, regarding the impact of this outbreak on the clients we serve.

  • Economic Effects:

As women, mothers, and immigrants, many of the clients who come to Sakhi will be disproportionately affected by the breakout of COVID-19. As establishments around the city continue to shut their doors or shift to working remotely, certain workers will be disproportionately affected. In particular, women will face compounded concerns as “they are disproportionately represented in fields that will expose them to contagion.” Furthermore, many of these industries do not offer their employees paid sick leave. In fact, 24% of civilian workers in the United States do not receive paid sick leave. 

Those workers must also consider transportation to work, and those who are mothers must consider childcare options––especially now as schools shut down. Without paid sick leave, workers are forced to choose between supporting themselves financially and risking their health and wellbeing. This situation can easily increase the spread of the virus, as many who may exhibit symptoms will be unable to afford missing a day of work. It has been reported that the outbreak has already prompted layoffs. The economic effects of the virus worsen the conditions of those individuals who may be living with perpetrators.

Please note: those who are working in industries that have now been forced to shut (e.g. restaurants, stores, gyms, etc.) can apply for unemployment benefits. If you work in one of these establishments, please reach out to an Economic Empowerment Advocate and we will support you with your application. It is imperative that you call ASAP, as you will need to apply within 7 days of losing your job due to COVID-19-related closures in order to receive benefits.

We are also acutely aware of the threat that this virus poses to those who are undocumented. Not only are they ineligible for medicaid, but these individuals may also refrain from coming to police or hospitals even if they exhibit symptoms, out of fear of exposing their documentation status. They may not, as a result, be able to receive necessary services in due time. The recent public charge ruling only elevates undocumented folks’ wariness of seeking public benefits, out of fear of threatening their immigration status. 

During this time, we are reminded what a privilege it is to be able to work remotely, and to be safe and sheltered in self-isolation.

  • Cabin Fever:

In addition to the economic effects of the pandemic, we are concerned about the physical and psychological effects. Crisis sparks conflict.

As people are pushed further inside, they will be met with psychological effects of enclosure and isolation, which can trigger existing anxieties, such as obsessive compulsive disorder, claustrophobia; fears of being in constant, close contact with family members and/or abusers, and fears for children, dependents, or loved ones. (See here for practical suggestions from the World Health Organization on how to manage anxiety in times of crisis).

It is thus unsurprising that this crisis has prompted rampant racism and xenophobia, particularly towards Asian/Asian Americans in our communities. Existing animosity toward bodies that have historically been marked as “others” is only compounded in this heightened state of fear. This state of isolation can also spark increased violence.

Those who are living with perpetrators will indefinitely be in forced proximity to abuse and threats of abuse. If, for example, perpetrators are out of work, that is yet another stressor/trigger that can build frustration and potentially prompt violence.

In the Hubei province in China, cases of domestic violence reportedly tripled in February.  

The phenomena of domestic and gender-based violence are heightened by cabin fever, while likely also exacerbated by the resulting stress of the occurrence of something that is beyond our control. For example, after the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires in Australia, more than half of 30 women who were interviewed in one study reported experiencing domestic violence in the wake of the disaster. Most of these women had not experienced domestic violence prior to this occurrence

Especially because of school closures, which often offer children a safe haven from abusive or neglectful households, we must be vigilant in supporting our neighbors.

  • Courts Closures:

Effective 5pm on Monday, March 16th, all non-essential functions of the court will be postponed until further notice. Family Court will remain open for essential matters like juvie, child protective, family offense and support proceedings.

We believe that these closures will have a significant impact on wait times, especially for folks who need interpreters.

  • Safety Planning:

During this time, safety planning must be vigorous. Sakhi advises the following:

  • Keep important documents handy.
  • Know the address of your nearest precinct.
  • Keep some money handy in case you need to call a car (Sakhi can reimburse you).
  • Make a safety word with children or a neighbor (so that they can call a neighbor/police if need be).
  • Keep the phone handy.
  • Try to avoid stairs and unsafe rooms that have sharp objects or hard surfaces. 
  • As shelters may go on lockdown and be unable to accept new clients, keep a place in mind, perhaps that of a neighbor, friend, or family member, where you may be able to go if the need arises.

  • For Children:
  • Free NYC Vegan Lunches for Public School Children:
  • In light of NYC school closures, Derossi Global will be helping our local communities by providing free vegan lunches to children Monday-Friday 12-2pm, beginning on Tuesday, March 17th from 12-2pm.
  • The pick up locations in the East Village are:
      • Honeybee’s and Mother of Pearl at 95 Avenue A
      • Avant Garden at 130 East 7th Street
      • Ladybird and Night Music at 111 East 7th Street
      • Please note: meals are provided to children only, parents cannot pick up for a child and they must accompany a child for meals.
  • Action Items:
      • We encourage you to visit the CDC website frequently for updates and guidelines, and to take their preventive measures.
      • Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands.
      • If you think you may be sick, follow these guidelines.
      • If you need support, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline Call 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-799-7233 for TTY. The Hotline is available 24/7, every day. If you are unable to speak safely, you can also text LOVEIS to 22522 or log onto thehotline.org.
      • Sakhi’s Helpline continues to operate as usual at 1 (212) 868-6741, and we are still receiving emails with requests for information and support.
      • During this time, our programs are more important now than ever. As we see images of empty shelves in grocery stores city-wide, we know that our Food Justice Program, which is fully stocked, is a crucial asset to clients. Cash Assistance, especially for those who are hourly-wage workers, is also a lifeline for many at the moment. Our mental health counselor is working to reach as many clients as possible through tele-therapy sessions. Additionally, legal services will be moved to the phone.
      • Reach out to your advocate if you have questions regarding your access to public benefits and other forms of government support.  Clients whose children are US citizens are also eligible for food stamps and other public benefits. Clients can call Economic Empowerment Advocates and we can help you to apply for food stamps as well as help with recertifications through the ACCESS HRA online tool.
      • With more events getting cancelled, fundraising is becoming an increasingly grave challenge for social-service organizations like ourselves. Donating to Sakhi right now will support us in offering food, family items, essential toiletries, and safe transportation, amongst other necessities, to clients. 
      • Join the New York Immigration Coalition in calling on all levels of government to immediately enact common sense measures to ensure the safety and health of immigrants across the state.
      • Advocate for paid sick leave, which studies have shown leads to a healthier and happier society.
      • Amplify this advocate letter to Mayor de Blasio calling for a moratorium on evictions in New York City. As COVID-19 causes folks to lose income due to COVID-19, making rent payments will also become increasingly difficult.

We will continue to provide important updates as necessary. Sakhi for South Asian Women remains dedicated to serving survivors of domestic and gender-based violence, especially at this daunting and uncertain time. Reach out to us for support. We hope you all stay well and safe.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]