Ek Shaam Raksha Ke Naam
Raksha, Inc., an Atlanta-based nonprofit that works for healing, justice, and empowerment for survivors of violence in the South Asian community, held its annual event, Ek Shaam Raksha Ke Naam, on ovember 11th at the outdoor pavilion at the Chattahoochee Nature Center in Roswell.
[Left] Brown Jovi’s performance enthralled the audience.
This year’s theme, “Rooted, Resilient, Rising” not only celebrated and recognized Raksha’s important work, but also appreciated members of the community who have served Raksha’s mission of a stronger and healthier South Asian community. The night resonated with gratitude for how our community stepped up during the pandemic and helped Raksha provide over $420,000 worth of client assistance with $290,000 being in rental assistance alone. Ek Shaam Raksha Ke Naam raised approximately $50,000 net to support Raksha’s work in the community.
[Right] Sukanya Sharker and Cherokee Family Violence Center team with Raksha staff.
Raksha’s Board President, Nisha Kapil, thanked community volunteers and the newly-formed Raksha Youth Group for their initiative and participation in fundraising and for decorating healing message stones for attendees to take home.
Executive Director, Aparna Bhattacharyya, who had the honor of being invited to the White House Diwali in Washington DC in recognition of her untiring service to the community, recognized the staff for their dedication towards serving Raksha’s clients and working toward their healing. Staff members Anjali Guntur, Nisha Khan, and Fatima Wasim were presented with awards to acknowledge their five-year milestone of working with Raksha.
Raksha Board Member, Tina Thapar, introduced Wessex Hotels as the Ramesh and Vijaya Bakshi Community Change Award winner for their continued partnership with Raksha over the years. Wessex had supported Raksha clients with emergency and short-term accommodations and ensured that clients had culturally-specific access to food and groceries while maintaining confidentiality. This year, Wessex Hotels renovated a couple of rooms specifically for Raksha clients by adding kitchenettes to make sure that the rooms are suitable for clients’ needs. Wessex Hotels have also connected Raksha with apartment owners to address barriers many survivors have with meeting application requirements for safe housing.
Left] Raksha staff recognized for their five year anniversary with Raksha.
Manisha Lance presented the first Seeds of Change Award which was presented to Sukanya Kar Bhowmik for her advocacy efforts to meet the needs of the Rohingya community. Bhowmik, who speaks their language and has a good understanding of their culture, dedicated her time and resources towards meeting their diverse needs.
Bhattacharya presented the second Seeds of Change Award to Suraiya Sharker for her work in bringing culturally competent domestic violence training and resources to Bengali, Burmese, Arab, and Vietnamese women who she was working with on reproductive justice issues in Clarkston.
The Himmat Award was next presented to one of Raksha’s community partners, Cherokee Family Violence Center (CFVC). Even before they created their Multicultural Services Program and took on the Spanish-speaking domestic violence hotline, CFVC has been a strong advocate for immigrant survivors, especially when their county wanted to create barriers for certain immigrant communities in accessing housing. Having developed innovative and holistic programming for all survivors and their families, they were critical during the pandemic in helping Raksha with housing assistance.
[Right] Cherokee Family Violence Center won the Himmat Award.
After the awards, the Brown Jovi band that had Tanweer Mian, Amol Khanapurkar, and Geethu Venugopal as lead vocalists entertained the audience. The instrumentalists were Asif Hafeez (keyboard), Gurinder Negi (guitar), Sai Ravishankar (flute), Rahim Shariff (percussion), and Niraj Sharma (tabla).
The décor was curated by Sangeeta Sheth, Tina Thapar, and Raunak Mercent. This included the keepsake inspiration rocks and tea light candles for attendees, many of which were painted by community volunteers from Raksha, Raksha Youth, and WOW (Women for Women). Floral arrangements and candle centerpieces were donated by Designs by Her. The food was donated by Naanstop and the dessert was donated by Chef Dinesh Café.
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