Renewing Our Sense of Sanctuary: 2021 in Review

Sanctuary is a core facet of our work at Sakhi. To us, sanctuary indicates the presence of safety, care, and trust. When we are able to locate it–in advocate relationships, in our broader community, and even in fleeting moments, we feel we have accomplished something special. In spaces of sanctuary, we build and grow together. We learn about ourselves, the world, and each other, and we feel connection during challenging times.

This year, Sakhi advocates were renewing sanctuary in our communities. We sought to create moments of connection through trust-building. We stewarded growth and self-determination through listening.

  • We provided 450 survivors with individual crisis intervention and/or case management in eight South Asian languages: Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Malayalam, Nepali, Punjabi, Sylheti, and Urdu.
  • We offered both 1:1 and group counseling to 95 survivors through our trauma-informed Mental Health Program, which saw a a 23% increase its caseload from 2020.
  • We distributed $60,000 in emergency cash assistance to survivors. These funds covered basic needs and enabled pathways to safety.
  • Sakhi’s Food Justice Program invested $30,000 in food assistance for 60 families through our two pantries, 640 grocery deliveries, and food cards.
  • In a 25% increase from 2020, 45 survivors received $325,000 in housing assistance from Sakhi, 24 of whom are supported with guaranteed, long-term rental assistance, including moving and utility expenses.

Working in a remote setting has been a battle between recharging our energies and settling into new boundaries. As a team, we are exploring what it has meant to shift work that we never could have imagined as anything but in-person, to a virtual setting. We have found both new challenges and possibilities in the process. In reflecting on the past year of virtual adjustments, we sat down with our colleagues to dive into their year, and discuss what made 2021 a memorable year for them.

Memorable Moments

Because I started at the end of 2020, this was my first job working remotely. I was a little wary of how this would work out, but our productivity hasn’t declined, and our clients really value having remote access to us. Not having to commute over a small concern has been a huge game changer. I think remote-working has actually favored clients who don’t have to deal with transportation. It cancels out the fear factor of being discovered, and it’s easier for many to schedule. – Sue Malla, Sakhi Anti-Violence Program Advocate

My biggest accomplishment has been being able to build trust and rapport with the folks I supervise as we are doing this challenging work together.

– Pooja Raj, Associate Director, Counseling and Youth

A lot of the conversations were – how do I heal when I am in a space where this person keeps hurting me?. So as a service provider, even if it’s just for forty five minutes or an hour, where you can feel like you can breathe.

– Rachana Parekh, Sakhi Mental Health Counselor

In Survivor’s Words

I deserve to move to a safe place and live a free and happy life. I did not want police involvement but needed guidance on what to do with my physical safety and mental well being. My college counselor called Sakhi’s helpline for support, and they’ve since connected me with a shelter, helped me cover moving expenses, and identified additional NYC resources for me to access.

– Samina Rahmna

I experienced a lot of physical and emotional trauma at the hands of my abusive husband. As I began working with four different advocates at Sakhi, I also began to regain confidence in my ability to build a happy and healthy life for myself and my two children. I’ve secured funding for housing and have relocated with my children, I’m enrolled in a nine-month Medical Assistant program at the Allen School, and I recently earned a grant for a new laptop as well. Even on days when it’s challenging to balance my work and school life, on top of raising my children, I feel fulfilled and go to bed with a smile when I think about my own growth.

– J.G.