SAHARA’s Walk For Women’s Empowerment
Colorful kites flew against clear blue skies, bodies stretched in yoga poses, feet danced enthusiastically and groups of people walked around the beautiful lake in William R Mason Regional Park in Irvine. Over 160 people came together for South Asian Helpline And Referral Agency’s (SAHARA) ‘Walk For Women’s Empowerment’ on May 26, 2013. The walk aimed to create awareness about the critical role played by women’s empowerment in reducing domestic violence and strengthening the family as a whole. Along with reaching out to people, SAHARA raised $10,000 via event registration tickets and donations at the event.
The morning started with yoga led by Neemu Murthy who guided the participants through gentle stretches to complicated yoga stances. Next the DEVIS group led the participants through a number of spirited songs with aerobic dance moves incorporated for a great workout. The high-fives and whoops at the end of each song were testimony to the fun everyone was having. It was a once in a lifetime sight to see LAPD officers Susan Torres and Chand Syed dancing energetically to the beats of Bollywood in their official uniforms and belts which were holding several pieces of equipment along with their guns.
A sumptuous breakfast generously donated by Surati Farsan and Rasraj was served throughout this time and at 11 am the participants started the walk around the 9.2 acre lake that is the centerpiece of the 345 acre serene park lush with open green spaces and shady trees. After the walk, the children and adults dotted the skies with kites, painted T-Shirts and got glittering body art tattoos painted. The Habit Burger Grill Truck served freshly made burgers, French fries and drinks for lunch. TV Asia covered the event and Mr. Nilesh Patel volunteered his time as a photographer.
Sheela Mehta, a SAHARA Board Member and founder informed the participants of the role played by SAHARA in the community. Last fiscal year SAHARA assisted over 300 survivors of domestic violence and provided over 2,100 shelter bed nights at its long-term transitional living home. All SAHARA services are provided free of charge and no distinctions are made on an individual’s religious affiliation. SAHARA’s SEWA (South Asian Elder Wellness Assistance) project provides a wide range of services to senior citizens such as assistance with public benefits, mental health counseling, computer literacy classes, etc. Sheela also requested the participants to spread the word about the services offered by SAHARA and to donate generously because community support is very important for the survival of non-profit organizations. She urged people to visit the website www.saharaorg.org to get more familiar with SAHARA.
The day ended with over 30 raffle prizes being raffled and lots of people walking away happy with their winnings. The Walk was a beautiful way to commemorate the Memorial Day weekend by coming together to make a positive difference in the community.