Johnstown Independent

McCoy center in New Albany

Oct. 13 concert helps victims of abuse

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

ASHA-Ray of Hope, a nonprofit organization that works with domestic violence victims of southern Asian descent, will hold a global fusion benefit concert Oct. 13 at the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts in New Albany.

Proceeds will be used to help abused women from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan.

"What we are seeing more and more of is a great influx of software engineers to the U.S., and they bring with them their spouses, most of whom, because of their status, are not allowed to accept employment," said Kirit Kapadia, president of the organization. "Many do not speak English very well, they can't drive or even operate the bank account.

"If they are involved in a serious problem like domestic violence, they find nowhere to turn, except to a close friend."

In 2011, ASHA-Ray of Hope helped 33 individuals and 13 dependents. The organization formed nine years ago tries to raise awareness about domestic violence, while it confidentially helps women who are able to find and contact its volunteers.

"Culturally, these women are not used to talking about their problems, even to close relatives," said Shobha Koushik, an ASHA volunteer. "Often, there are immigration issues, language barriers or they can't drive and don't know there are resources out there."

ASHA, named for a word that means "hope" in one of the languages of India, essentially is an all-volunteer organization. It has one paid staff member who works in the office, Kapadia said.

It works with other organizations that address domestic violence issues and tries to help its clients maneuver through a foreign system.

"Because of the cultural differences and differences in religion, we try to cater to our clients and customize our help on a cultural basis," Kapadia said. "We think we can do a little better job at it."

Kapadia said ASHA provides transportation for women who can't drive and translators who can help facilitate appointments with doctors and attorneys.

Because of the language barrier and other barriers these women face, Kapadia said the organization often spends more than a year working with clients, trying to help them become self-sustaining, find employment and find a permanent home.

ASHA receives two to four new clients a month and can work with up to 12 to 15. Kapadia said confidentiality is so important that even he, as president, only knows clients by a letter or number.

The concert to raise funds for ASHA will start at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, at the McCoy Center, 100 W. Dublin-Granville Road.

It will feature the Sufi Music Ensemble, performing for the first time in the Midwest. Kapadia said the group will perform instrumental and vocal music of an Islamic nature.

Koushik said the evening's special guest is Prabhu Dayal, the consul general of India, who is coming from New York to show his support for the cause.

Tickets are $15 for students and $35, $50 and $100 for adults.

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