SAN Celebrates Twenty Years of Dedicated Service
By Preeti Sharma
Hamid Khan, one of the founding members of SAN, is duly honored for his sustained
and meritorious services
Los Angeles , CA : Over 300 community members, leaders and partners commemorated South Asian Network’s 20th year on Saturday, October 23rd. USC’s Town and Gown Hall was buzzing with excitement and emotion from many supporters – including the organization’s founders to SAN’s newest youth members. Each attendee carried this year’s theme “The journey to justice continues…” within them as they understood the effort towards achieving community transformation.
South Asian Network (SAN), a grassroots community based organization dedicated to advancing the health, empowerment and solidarity of persons of South Asian descent, was founded in April 1990. The organization has grown from an idea between a core group of volunteers seeking to build a space for change and justice in the South Asian community to a 17-person staffed non-profit organization focusing on health, civil rights and domestic violence.
At the event, Hamid Khan, one of the founding members of the organization and current executive director, acknowledged his approaching departure from the organization. He noted, “This transformative experience, both personally and collectively, would not have been possible without the principled and selfless contribution of so many people.”
Thanking all those who gave their time, energy and spirit, Khan pointed to the key moments in the organization’s history – from answering health and domestic violence needs in the South Asian community, challenging hate crimes and discrimination post-9/11, and developing its numerous workers rights, tenants rights, youth, survivor support, queer and older adult committees.
SAN also announced its new executive director, Manjusha Kulkarni. Kulkarni, a former board chair at South Asian Network, began volunteering her time at SAN assisting with a hate crimes case on Pioneer Blvd. Kulkarni noted that it was her “great honor to join SAN, where, with all of our generous support, we can forge ahead on the journey to justice.”
At the event, Kiran Ahuja delivered the keynote speech commemorating SAN’s 20th year. Ahuja, the Executive Director of the White House Initiative for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, discussed the needs of Asian American and Pacific Islander community members, especially low-income, marginalized and vulnerable community members.
Shyamala Moorty, a renowned performance artist activist with the group Post-Natyam, and SAN volunteer, performed a new piece created with one of SAN’s survivors of violence, Uma. While Uma read her a story based on her own experience, Shyamala’s performance moved the audiences to feel the depth of pain and healing that a survivor goes through in experiencing different aspects of physical and emotional violence and abuse.
Awardees for the evening included: Christine N. Lee and Amy Phillips for their contribution to SAN’s older adult walking club and nutrition program; Halim Dhanidina for his support with SAN’s domestic violence cases and rights; Sonali Kolhatkar for her voice of justice on LA’s radio waves, and Do Kim for his support in advancing civil rights and community justice, especially with SAN’s community members.
At the end of the evening, the staff gathered to congratulate the organization and Hamid’s tenure and commitment. “We know that Hamid has given invaluable time to this organization and our movement to create change here for our community. We will continue on our journey to justice with strength and love that we learned from all our previous work and contributions” said Dolly Husein, long-time staff member at SAN.
SAN has built trust with the local South Asian community in Los Angeles county over the past twenty years to promote community health, and challenge workers rights abuses, tenants rights violations, domestic violence and queer violence, while establishing itself as a national leader on issues of immigrant rights and justice.