Miles To Go

To commemorate the upcoming Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Gandhi’s birthday, non-profit Saheli organized a 5K Run/Walk to Stop Violence Against Women in Burlington, Massachusetts, for Saturday, September 29, with co-sponsor Burlington Police Department (The Boston Globe). Over 1500 Indian residents live in the town according to the Institute for Asian American Studies at the University of Massachusetts in Boston.

In Hindi Saheli means “a female friend; a shoulder to lean on,” explained Rita Shah, director of Saheli, which was founded in the Boston area 11 years ago and dedicates itself to helping South Asian women. The Run/Walk was planned to raise money for its Women’s Assistance Fund, which helps women on an emergency basis without requiring committee approval. The program assisted 23 women this year.

For more details on the organization, Saturday’s Run/Walk and to register visit Saheli online.

More: DVAM; Gandhi Jayanti

Comments Off on Miles To Go         Facebook   RSS 2.0   Permalink   September 28, 2007

Spreading The Prakash

Sinha (Nature.Com)

Four years ago scientists discovered SRD, a 32-year-old Ahmedabadi woman born into blindness.

Now her case, published recently in Psychological Science, is forcing scholars to reconsider their approach to the disability.

Neuroscience dogma says little can be done if a blind child isn’t operated on by age six.

But SRD’s case is turning that doctrine on its head–her sight was restored at age 12, and her brain, in strong defiance of theory, “learned to interpret visual information.” The findings provide hope that the brain can learn to see later on in life.

“There is a critical period for perfect acuity,” Pawan Sinha, the study’s primary investigator, and a neuroscientist at MIT tells Time Magazine. “But there is not a critical period of learning to do complex visual tasks.”

Sinha is the founder of Project Prakash, a humanitarian and research effort aimed at expanding access to proper eye care in India.

Project Prakash
Prakash featured in MIT news mag
The Sinha Lab at MIT
Pawan Sinha’s profile on Indian NGOs

Comments Off on Spreading The Prakash         Facebook   RSS 2.0   Permalink   March 7, 2007

The Little Black Dress That Could, Does.

Dominique in Kolkata. Bikas Das (AP)

When the ultimate little black dress was put up for auction last year, estimates suggested it would bring in about $150,000.

The dress, famously worn by Audrey Hepburn in the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s, was designed by Hubert de Givenchy, and most recently modeled by Natalie Portman (“I was so nervous that I wasn’t going to fit. Everyone kept telling me how small it was”).

The frock brought in an astounding $800,000, and proceeds were donated to the City of Joy Foundation–a charitable organization working to better conditions in West Bengal.

Last week, thousands gathered around the City of Joy author and philanthropist Dominique Lapierre as he inaugurated a new school in Kolkata–a school that was built with with the auction-proceeds.

“I hope to build 15 schools with the money for destitute children of West Bengal,” he said. “I am very happy that my efforts are fructifying. Things are changing with more and more children going to school.”

Before her death in 1993, Hepburn visited South Asia (Bangladesh) as an ambassador for UNICEF.

Audrey Hepburn’s Children’s Fund
Tribute to Hepburn’s humanitarian work
City of Joy the book

Comments Off on The Little Black Dress That Could, Does.         Facebook   RSS 2.0   Permalink   March 6, 2007

Attorney Receives Angel Award

hitesh barot

Out of more than 200,000 attorneys throughout the state, California Lawyer magazine awarded its inaugural Angel Award to 16, most of whom are partners. The award honors “those idealistic attorneys who have made substantial pro bono contributions.” Hitesh S. Barot, one of only two associates receiving the award, was honored for his pro bono work in securing a settlement in a case brought under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act for an Indian woman who was brought to the Los Angeles area, forced to work long hours, effectively imprisoned in the house, and sexually assaulted by an acquaintance of her employer. She escaped with the help of the South Asian Network and since 2004 a team of lawyers had been working on the case together with the ACLU.

Barot initially began working on the case in October 2005 because he was able to translate Hindi. He soon took over the matter, gaining the trust of the plaintiff, who had been suffering from post-traumatic stress. A graduate of UC Berkeley’s engineering and law schools who is active in local and national South Asian bar associations, Barot told India Journal, “I was surprised and humbled to be recognized along with veteran luminaries in the pro bono space…This case resonated with me because I have known others in our Indian community who have been mis-treated the same way and so it was particularly important for me to give my client a voice and empower her to strike back at those who wronged her.”

Domestic Workers’ Resources

1 Comment         Facebook   RSS 2.0   Permalink   February 9, 2007

What Would The Mahatma/King Do?

MLK and Gandhiji
MLK and His Portrait of Gandhiji. ForUSA.Org

He was introduced to the life and teachings of Mahatma Gandhi (by Mordecai Johnson, president of Howard University) while still a seminary student in Pennsylvania.

It would profoundly shape his philosophy of nonviolent social protest.

“As I read, I became deeply fascinated by his campaigns of nonviolent resistance,” King would later write. “As I delved deeper into the philosophy of Gandhi, my skepticism concerning the power of love gradually diminished, and I came to see for the first time its potency in the area of social reform.”

“The Christian doctrine of love, operating through the Gandhian method of nonviolence, was one of the most potent weapons available to the Negro in his struggle for freedom.”

Today we celebrate the great legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, and the Reverend’s noble, unwavering commitment to passive-resistance.

Check with your local area civic centers to find out how you can make it a day of service.

Comments Off on What Would The Mahatma/King Do?         Facebook   RSS 2.0   Permalink   January 15, 2007
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Two Years Later

tsunami memorial lanterns
Lanterns over Andaman Sea in tribute to tsunami victims. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom

Two years ago, one of the most powerful earthquakes recorded triggered giant waves that destroyed villages in several nations along the Indian Ocean shores and took the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. On Tuesday people in the affected areas marked the tsunami’s second anniversary with all manner of tributes, including tears, prayers, silence and jitters induced by powerful earthquakes in Taiwan that triggered a temporary tsunami alert.

Last year covered the stories of survivors and those who helped out with the recovery efforts following the destruction (“Wave of Destruction,” 2/05). Orlantha Ambrose, a Sri Lankan American whose work with children and music education took her from Los Angeles to Colombo, was one of those people in the path of the tsunami who did not survive. Look for more on Ambrose and Strings by the Sea, the non-profit she founded which continues her mission of bringing music to underprivileged kids, in an upcoming issue.

Related: Swing Batter-Batter, Becoming Family: A Tsunami Relief Documentary

Comments Off on Two Years Later         Facebook   RSS 2.0   Permalink   December 26, 2006

Swing Batter-Batter


You knew he could swing a racket, but a cricket bat?

Roger Federer spent yesterday 100 miles south of Chennai, playing a few rounds of cricket with the displaced children of the Pudupettai rehabilitation colony.

The children have been homeless since the tsunami hit on December 26, 2004.

The tsunami-death toll stands at just under 300,000 people (18,000 in India alone).

“In the beginning they threw the ball at me slowly, and then realized that I was not that bad after all,” said Federer of his fellow cricketers.

“In the end, they did get me out.”

The boys, of Tamil Nadu’s Cuddalore district, were said to be “delighted” with the visit. Roger Federer is a top-seeded tennis player and a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF.

For more on how you can help with tsunami recovery efforts, visit MercyCorps.Com or go to the UNDP’s relief site.

3 Comments         Facebook   RSS 2.0   Permalink   December 23, 2006

Newly-elected Councilmember Anu Natarajan

anu natarajan
Anu Natarajan (
cj cregg
Role model C. J. Cregg

Earlier this month Anu Natarajan became the first Indian American elected to a city council in northern California’s Bay Area. Appointed two years ago to the city council of Fremont, the Bay Area’s fourth largest city, she received enough votes in the recent elections to finish out the rest of her four-year term as an elected member.

Fremont is among the most diverse cities of its size in the country. Its 212,000 residents come from more than 155 countries, with the nation’s largest concentration of Indo-Americans, comprising roughly 10 percent of the population.

Because of these changing demographics, Natarajan said the color of her skin, the way she speaks and her gender may make her more approachable — especially to immigrants who typically shy away from government.

“Some of the people who wouldn’t normally go to city hall come up to me and ask questions on their own,” she said. (“Council’s first Indo-American has passion for community,” The Mercury News)

Natarajan’s background in architecture and planning should prove useful in the city’s upcoming dealings with the Oakland A’s—the team has announced plans to move to Fremont and and build a high-tech baseball stadium there.

Like most elected officials, Natarajan has her detractors. But there is one position she holds that should face little to no resistance among the pro-“West Wing” faction. That would be her choice of Allison Janney/C. J. Cregg as role model (bio)!

More information: City of Fremont,

Comments Off on Newly-elected Councilmember Anu Natarajan         Facebook   RSS 2.0   Permalink   November 28, 2006