Matri Annual Gala

Maitri celebrated 32 years of empowering South Asian survivors of domestic violence and abuse with a glittering and successful gala that raised over $600,000, on March 11, 2023, in Palo Alto, California. 

Vidya Vox, a global YouTube superstar headlined the event, bringing together influences of her Indian-American heritage to perform refreshingly unique and contemporary music.

Silicon Valley CEOs, VCs, community leaders, entrepreneurs, and community members generously donated and showed their support for Maitri’s work. 

The picture shows three people - a girl singing into a microphone, a man playing keyboards and a man playing a guitar
Vidya Vox performing at the gala (image courtesy/ Maitri Facebook)

Maitri has helped 6700 survivors since 1991

Since its founding Maitri has responded to over 59,000 helpline calls and aided more than 6,700 survivors with various services. 

A free, confidential, nonprofit organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Maitri primarily helps families and individuals from South Asia (Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka among others) facing domestic violence (DV), emotional abuse, cultural alienation, or family conflict.

Since 1991, Maitri has helped thousands of survivors via an exhaustive resource guide and services in partnership with South Bay legal organizations and other domestic violence organizations. 

Maitri offers holistic services

Maitri expanded its services from a phone line and referral service to holistic programs and services. These provide help through a free helpline, peer counseling,  transitional housing,  legal advocacy, economic empowerment, individual therapy and support groups, community outreach and education, and emergency shelter referrals.

“When we started, there was huge stigma and shame talking in public about what people thought were family matters. There was huge resistance to understanding DV as a systemic problem but the community has changed and not only accepted DV as a community issue but also shown care via support and generous funding,” said Sonya Pelia, a Board Member and a founder of Maitri. 

The picture shows a group of people standing
Attendees at the Matri Annual Gala on March 11, 2023 (image courtesy/ Maitri)

Helping make informed choices

Maitri believes that mutual respect, open communication, and individual empowerment characterize the best human relationships. They designed all their activities to help South Asians make informed choices.

“Despite all the challenges of the pandemic, the volatility of the markets, and uncertainty in the world, our community has come together to fund the critical work at Maitri,” said Geetha Krishnamurthy, Maitri Board President.”The pandemic has been a very difficult time for survivors. They lost jobs, have experienced more violence, and, in general, struggled more than usual. In FY22, the total number of clients helped increased by 28%,” 

Why donors support Maitri

Poonam and Prabhu Goel have supported Maitri for over 30 years. 

“Domestic abuse is very difficult for victims to admit to and deal with, especially if a victim is not the breadwinner, does not have access to finances and her support network is primarily in India,” said Prabhu Goel.

“Maitri took up a difficult but very real problem. Training, experience and the right kind of resources are needed to help victims, “ added Poonam Goel. “While the bulk of the funding of the non-profit is from federal, state and county grants, the money comes with strings attached.”

Community outreach at Maitri

The non-profit is also engaged in community outreach, advocacy, and prevention work. It collaborates with national, state, and city-wide organizations including police and court officials on how to work with immigrant survivors to provide culturally responsive services and language access to the victims. 

“We also get involved in policy advocacy,” explained Dr. Zakia Afrin, Director of Survivor Advocacy and Prevention at Maitri. “We are working with California Partnership to End Domestic Violence and do training programs for local and state officials to help them understand unique issues like transnational abandonment that South Asian victims might face.” 

Other programs at Maitri

The Economic Empowerment Program, one of Maitri’s newest programs assists survivors with training to enter or re-enter the workforce and provides a scholarship to attend school.

Srilatha Raghavan, VP of the Maitri Board addressed the gender inequities she observed while working in high tech companies. “Culturally gender differences and roles emanating from that are ingrained in us. It is vital to boost the education and outreach programs amongst the next generation to foster frank conversations about healthy relationships to prevent DV incidences.” 

Rama Dharmarajan, Executive Director at Maitri, reiterated the importance of Outreach and Education programming. “For the last several years, we have considerably expanded our Outreach and Education on Healthy Relationships for our next generation. This work with youth has created a stronger ownership in the community to change the intergenerational impact of domestic violence.”

Shalini Kathuria Narang is a Silicon Valley based software professional and freelance journalist. She has written and published extensively for several national and international newspapers, magazines...