There’s no shortage of fanfare that bestows Seattle; the most current, Forbes naming it 2015’s top city for Most Jobs. There are also accolades for Fastest Growing City and America’s Coolest City which has led to a dramatic, record-breaking rise in the city’s population. As the city grows to new heights, its immigrant and minority population is skyrocketing at record pace. As the new waves of immigrants comingle with the existing minority communities, there are ripples of discord, leading to a tsunami of problem areas too often covered-up by their culture’s stigma of shame and patriarchal regime. Those suffering, primarily women, are often left silent until outreach efforts provide information and safe havens.
A Seattle-based nonprofit organization that works with and advocates for minorities finds a way to reach those that need help. API Chaya formed in 2011 when the South Asian social services center, Chaya, merged with the Asian Pacific Islander Women and Family Safety Center. It provides direct services to Asian, Pacific Islander and South Asian survivors of domestic violence, human trafficking and sexual violence by educating and empowering survivors to take action and bring change. Earlier this year, it hosted a community forum on the powerful documentary INDIA’S DAUGHTER, following the candlelight vigil and dialogues the organization hosted in 2013 after the crime.
Many of its clients find API Chaya through word-of-mouth,
confidential hotline, referrals from law enforcement/agencies but often, API
Chaya will make its way to its clients by visiting temples and mosques to help
those shrouded in silence and shame. “The highest number of clients we see are
from the South Asian community,” says Didi Manhas Saluja, board president for
API Chaya. Didi and I met last month in
a Seattle Green Lake neighborhood coffee shop and she gave good insight on the people
API Chaya helps. “Some of the women we help are affluent and professional while
others are bound to their husband’s Visa immigration status but unable to
legally work themselves,” Saluja continued. Second most served client group is
the Filipino community and though the rate of violence doesn’t differ much across
communities, the same value of not marrying an individual but rather the entire
village is constant across its clients. When marriage is perceived as a village
then the shame when things go wrong is not just felt by the women but also her
relatives, family and overarching community.
|API Chaya volunteers at a candlelight vigil|
|Volunteers hold support signs|
|API Chaya 2015 Annual Auction|
API Chaya is led by a nine-person all volunteer board, 18 paid positions and the tireless effort of volunteers. They participate and offer events in almost all aspects of Seattle minority communities. From movie screenings, to panels on human trafficking, to candlelight vigils, to campaigning for equal rights, API Chaya is there to support and empower the community. But like most nonprofits, Saluja is quick to point out that API Chaya plans to remain a viable community organization by building their financial sustainability. They rely on private donations and government grants to help Seattle’s burgeoning minority community. If you can help, please donate here.