I woke up this morning, and was thinking about my own situation—overcoming domestic violence and homelessness only to lose custody of my children to my abuser, and unable to afford legal help or get any community resources to assist me.

I was even turned down by the self represented legal clinic at an agency helping battered women and needy families in my area, because I was told the “economy is bad” and everyone needs help, the demand is so great they would not even accept my name for the waiting list. I know that if I spent every penny I had to try to get legal help (which would not be guaranteed to turn my case around), I would end up homeless again…unable to pay rent, bills or food and that too would go against me in court. The whole situation seems so hopeless and yet you must have some kind of hope so you can put one foot in front of the other and keep fighting for my children.

 

Hope sometimes turns to day dreaming and by “coincidence” I pondered that if I was a celebrity or a movie star, how I would help needy women…how I would give my own money and start a foundation to provide legal support services… I’d shrug off designer gowns for thrift store fashion, and give up exclusive parties to hunker down in an office, hearing tearful stories of mothers like me—and finding a way to help. I’d look at the pictures of their children, and remember those toothy smiles, the babies curled in the arms as well as the reports of abuse, the violations of family court and the manipulations of abusers who seem to get away with everything.. I’d never forget those stories because they are so much like my own. Those images would be branded on my heart next to the memories of my children, and the abuses in family court we had to survive, and with every last bit of strength in my body, I’d fight alongside these women. I day dreamed of finding shelter for families and winning hopeless cases. And for a second, the pain ebbed away…

 

Then, I found this article and it seemed to speak to those very dreams… I had to share it with all of you, it is my inspiration for today.

******************************************

 Somy Ali was born in Pakistan then moved to India at age 16 where she worked as an actress in Bollywood, appearing in several movies, and widely popular.  Ali left India to pursue an education in Florida, where she received a degree in psychology and also completed courses in journalism. Ali went on to establish a non-profit organization called “No More Tears” in 2006 that helps abused women to get legal help, financial help, and counseling and support services. Ali now lives in Florida, where she works as a journalist, model and is an outspoken human rights advocate confronting social issues and areas of injustice such as: abuse, teenage suicide, abortion, and cultural perceptions about women. Ali also creates films designed to raise awareness about social issues important to women. Ali also sells an original line of clothing called So-Me Designs, which she designs. One of the graphic artists working for So-Me Designs is one of the abuse survivors helped by No More Tears.

There are many inspirations for No More Tears including a personal experience Ali had with a neighbor who came to her in the middle of the night, pounding on Ali’s door, begging for help. The woman confided that her husband had physically and sexually abused her for years, and she was desperate to escape. Ali paid for the woman’s apartment and her divorce, and then began to think of other ways to help abused women, which led to the founding of No More Tears. Ali also works alongside an attorney who helps abused women at a greatly reduced price. Saman Movassaghi, the attorney, claims she helps because, “I really enjoy helping them in the respect that they know that there is somebody out there who listens to their case and fights for them…I went to law school to help people.”

Ali spreads the word about No More Tears by passing out flyers in public places such as mosques, churches, grocery stores and restaurants. She also promotes No More Tears on the internet and by selling a documentary about it’s life-saving mission. Ali says she wants to help women in her native Pakistan but fears that she could be hurt or killed for doing so (I believe Ali will find a way to reach women in Pakistan, she is that determined and supported).

No More Tears works with immigrant women in the US to escape domestic violence, and specifically addresses cultural and residency (fear if they speak out they will be deported) issues. Much of the funding for No More Tears comes from the sale of clothing from So-Me Designs as well as through donations. Ali says, “These people have now become a part of my family,” she said. “There is nothing more gratifying than rescuing a woman.”

My thoughts and prayers go out to Somy Ali, you have brightened my day today. Thank-you for your hard work and efforts to improve the lives of abused and needy women, and their families.

– Evanlee J. Perth, 2010

No More Tears Online (Information, Statistics about Domestic Violence, Make a Donation, Volunteer): http://www.nmtproject.org/index.php

Mission Statement: No More Tears is a 501 (C) 3 not-for-profit organization with a focus on helping immigrant women in the United States who are victims of spousal abuse. Many of these women are brought to America via arranged marriages and are scared to speak out against their oppressor due to the ramifications they will face in their home country or for the fear of being sent back. No More Tears works with these women in helping to provide them with legal counsel, financial assistance and psychotherapy. We help with these women in not only wiping away the tears, but also making sure that there are No More Tears!

Source: The Jakarta Globe, “Bollywood Star Reaches Out to Battered Women” by Lisa Orkin Emmanuel | September 16, 2010

Retrieved 9-17-2010: http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/lifeandtimes/bollywood-star-reaches-out-to-battered-women/396464

Advertisements