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AADA requests support to help end domestic abuse

By Elsa Maxey

”We are looking to expand our board,” and “ we are looking for new donors, volunteers, sponsors,” said Rashmi Sharmi, President of Asians Against Domestic Violence (AADA), which is helping rebuild the lives of abused women from Asian countries living in the greater Houston area, including Fort Bend. AADA was founded in 2001 and helps provide what is described as culturally and linguistically appropriate care for women and children suffering from domestic abuse. One of the challenges facing the provision of services is rooted in the Asians’ country of origin experiences, which has caused them to be mistrustful.

Sharma, a long-time Sugar Land resident, currently leads the charge of the organization to “help our women and their families live free of fear and violence.”

This fall AADA hosted a luncheon with the Junior League of Houston turning out some 250 participants to hear Thecia Jenkins’ address as the keynote speaker of the event. She “started with a sad statistics,” shares Sharma, about 123 women in Texas who lost their lives due to abusive relationships. Building a bold strategy to end domestic violence needs to be interactive, she maintains. Jenkins told the AADA supportive audience that to stop domestic violence, you must be interactive and bold as you wake up every day, not knowing what you will encounter.

Among other challenges faced by AADA’s target population is that violence is seen as a family matter and seeking help from the outside is perceived as a stigma that attaches to the family. Also Asians who leave their spouse risk being ostracized from the entire community and support system.

AADA operates its organization nearby at the Chinese Community Center, 9800 Town Park, just off Beltway 8 and Town Park. “We are the only organization that helps women from China, Vietnam, Korea, India, Iraq, Lebanon, Iran, Pakistan,” and other Asian countries, and have advocates that speak up to 12 to13 different languages, said Sharma. AADA maintains that limited or non-existent English language skills and illiteracy in their native languages make it difficult for some Asians to build new lives in the United States noting that many mainstream service agencies present cultural and linguistic barriers to Asian families.

In her call to action, she implores the community about how “together we can make a difference through awareness, through education and through assistance, one life at a time, so one day there will be no need of AADA,” Sharma said. “This is my dream.” She’s particularly passionate about helping women and children and is intent on empowering “them to speak for themselves,” become educated so they can be financially independent, “and if they are educated and are financially strong, they can leave their abusive relationship and be a productive member of the society,” asserts Sharma.

Ultimately the support she’s seeking is to help impact the violence and bring it to an end in what she refers to the wider-Houston area Asian American community by way of having persons share their time, talents, and financial contributions. “As Gandhi said, ‘The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others,’ “said Sharma.

To join in this noble cause to end violence by participating in the organization’s activities, attending and supporting fundraising events, and more, interested persons are asked to visit Aadainc.org, call 713-339-8300 or email aadaorg@yahoo.com

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