Can you tell me about the work that Kiran does?

Our mission is to end the cycle of abuse and empower South Asian victims of domestic violence for the entire state of North Carolina by providing culturally specific services. We began in 1998; it was just a volunteer organization. A couple of women got together and wanted to highlight the domestic violence that had started to pick up, or at least become noticeable, in the South Asian communities. It grew from there. In 2008, the agency became federally funded for the first time as a nonprofit organization. So, other than just providing domestic violence services, we try to help these victims escape the cycle of abuse and rebuild their lives. We’re not limited to, but we have identified nine South Asian countries we serve, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Burma, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

What is it like to serve the whole state?

We’re equipped—for lack of a better word—to provide culturally and gender competent support and prolonged case management. We say prolonged case management because the challenges faced by our clientele are very unique in some ways. When you look at DV victims, the image of the victim is very similar but our clients have compounded situations added to whatever else is going on because there are so many barriers and stigmas attached. Sometimes someone says, “Why do you need a separate organization to support South Asians?” But there’s a huge stigma of divorce in South Asian cultures.

Is the South Asian community growing in North Carolina?

Yes. In 2014, we served 120 clients. In 2018, we served 248. At the close of 2020, December 2020, we had served 486 clients. And these are clients that are not, you know, one-time calls—these are clients that we have followed and done more than just calling once or twice. I think 2017 was the last census, and [there were] approximately 303,000 Asian residents in North Carolina. The projected census for 2033 is half a million.

Are there any special projects or news on the horizon?

We’re opening a satellite office in the Mecklenburg area, because our second-highest call volume is from the Charlotte area. We want to do some culturally appropriate training with the police departments and some of the other organizations that help DV victims, so [that] whenever they work with South Asian victims, they are aware of some of the cultural nuances, and so they can know to reach out to us. We’re trying to expand outside of this area because our funding is for all North Carolinians. That’s our big goal for the year.

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