SAHARA Raises $250K to Eradicate Domestic Violence

SAHARA’s (South Asian Helpline And Referral Agency) annual fundraiser aimed at ‘Raising the Stakes to Eradicate Domestic Violence,’ was held at the Marconi Automotive Museum in Tustin on Sept 14 th 2013. The sold-out event raised $250,000 for the many community-related projects undertaken by SAHARA.

Since 1991, SAHARA has offered a wide range of services and resources to individuals suffering from domestic violence, a silent epidemic that often goes unreported in the South Asian community. SAHARA provides individual and couple counseling, mental health therapy, legal assistance, referrals, skill development, case management and long-term shelter to South Asian victims of domestic violence in Southern California. The organization's main office is located on Pioneer Boulevard in Artesia at the intersection of 91 Freeway.

At the fundraiser, a number of SAHARA clients shared their stories r and touched the hearts of everyone in the audience. One after another, survivors, who were initially very reluctant to speak in public, spoke of how SAHARA had assisted them in their darkest hours and played a role in making them what they were today. Many in the audience were surprised to realize that domestic violence is very much a part of the educated families and permeates across all socio-economic segments.

Kunal Nayyar, who plays Raj Koothrappali in the CBS comedy “The Big Bang Theory,” emceed the event. With his prominence in the entertainment industry and dedication to various advocacy campaigns, Nayyar was able to keep the night fresh and entertaining during the live auction alongside auctioneer Deepak Chopra.

A video put together under SAHARA’s YES (Youth Ensemble of SAHARA) internship program was shown to the audience to emphasize how violence in a relationship continues from one generation to another. This summer program is SAHARA's effort to ensure that our youngsters are aware of issues such as violence in relationships, so that they are much better prepared to handle such issues if they face them in the future.


Added to this was a presentation made by Sona Shah, a Board member, who revealed that 40 percent of married South Asian women report abuse showing that domestic violence is much more pervasive in the South Asian community which is among the fastest growing in the US. She labeled domestic violence a `silent epidemic’ due to many factors like patriarchal beliefs, denial, cultural taboos, immigration issues and language barriers. SAHARA provides all services free in many languages and no client is turned away. In 2011, SAHARA opened a satellite office in Van Nuys. Under the guidance of board member Dr Seema Arora, the office has been providing comprehensive services to domestic violence victims in the area.

Items auctioned off during the event included $25,000 to support seniors through SAHARA’s SEWA (South Asian Elder Wellness Assistance) project. Other items included monthly legal clinics, and assistance for safe housing, mental health, life skills and legal advocacy. Kunal Nayyar and Deepak Chopra did a good job cajoling members of the audience to loosen their purse strings and donate generously.

For more information on SAHARA, please visit


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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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