One Community United Kickoff Town Hall in Atlanta

From Niralee, one of our amazing summer interns:

On Tuesday, June 16th, SAALT’s Executive Director Deepa Iyer, along with NCSO partner Raksha, Indus Bar, the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, and Khabar, launched the One Community United campaign with an inaugural town hall in Atlanta. The event was the first in a series of community forums to be held throughout the country as part of the campaign.

The town hall took place at the Global Mall in Atlanta on Tuesday evening, and about forty people attended the event. The group was very diverse, including representatives of South Asian organizations, local students and community members, and members of local places of worship.

The heart of the discussion was immigration and human rights. From the very beginning, participants eagerly engaged in the discussion, addressing issues ranging from the rights of immigrant workers, to detention and deportation, to the reunification of families. Participants also discussed how the human rights of immigrants are often violated in this country. The event closed with a call to action, encouraging participants to contact their representatives in Congress, stay in touch with organizations working with the South Asian community, and stay up to date on immigration issues.

Many who attended walked away feeling inspired to take action on immigration reform in their communities. Vandana said, “The town hall was extremely eye-opening and thought provoking… I am going to chalk-out a plan of action… and definitely contact some people that I know will share the same enthusiasm for the [Be the Change] project.” Noshin, a representative of Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services of Atlanta, said he would “keep up with bills introduced and contact [his] representatives “ and “share [his] immigration story with SAALT.” Many others expressed a strong desire to go back to their communities and address the issues discussed at the town hall.

SAALT left the event looking forward to future town halls, to be hosted in the San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago, New Jersey, and Washington DC. It was great to see so many Atlanta community members coming together to express their support for immigration reform. Overall, the event was a very exciting kick-off for SAALT’s One Community United campaign.

For more information about the One Community United campaign for Civil and Immigrant Rights, visit here <http://www.saalt.org/pages/One-Community-United-Campaign.html>.

More Reflections from Atlanta Town Hall for Civil and Immigrant Rights

Here are more reflection on the kick-off town hall in Atlanta, GA of the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations’ One Community United campaign for civil and immigrant rights. This time we’re hearing from Nureen Gulamali, intern at ACLU-Georgia  (one of the cosponsors of the town hall):

I’m lucky to be interning at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Georgia this summer and was grateful to be a part of the SAALT/ACLU forum.  After attending the Immigration Forum, my perspective has been enlightened and truly widened.  Immigration is a hot topic in today’s world – tell me something I don’t know.  But how it affects the actual immigrants is truly the issue at hand.  I’ve heard accounts of the trials and tribulations that so many people have had to go through in order to get a better start in this world, and my heart goes out to them.  The forum itself not only provided more information to the uninformed, but allowed for a healthy and knowledgeable discussion for both the informed and uninformed.  It’s so important to stand up for what is right and immigration rights are, in essence, human rights.  What knowing individual wouldn’t stand up for human rights?

So, I suppose the more important question is, what can we do about it?  Well, really, everyone who was able to make it to the forum has already taken the first step – stay informed.  It’s as simple as that.  You can make a difference by staying informed, whether that’s catching up on the current issues on Google News, or joining a human rights advocacy group (GA Detention Watch, Human Rights Atlanta, Raksha, SAALT, etc.).  The more allies we have, the bigger the impact we can have – not to mention strategic pull.  So, take ten minutes a day to read what’s going on in the human rights/immigration front and from there, I swear, it will be plenty easy to get involved!

For more information about the One Community United campaign for Civil and Immigrant Rights, visit here <http://www.saalt.org/pages/One-Community-United-Campaign.html>.

Daily Buzz 03.12.09

1. Immigrants face mixed messages along the South’s “immigrant highway”

2. UNHCR reports on the failure to investigate the deaths of journalists in Sri Lanka

3. Congress hears two very different accounts of local police and immigration enforcement

4. Plenty of exciting South Asian films at the San Francisco International Film Festival

5. Innovative NGO works to empower Nepal’s youth

6. So, whatever happened to that Kashkari guy?

Over 2,000 people volunteer for Be the Change on October 4th!

On Saturday, October 4, 2008- over 2,000 volunteers from around the country participated in SAALT’s annual day of service, Be the Change. As the National Be the Change Coordinator, it was exciting to see many individuals from cities and campuses around the country involved in this great cause- volunteers from over 40 cities and campuses participated nationwide! Atlanta, Boston, Bay Area, Washington D.C., New York, Philadelphia, University of Central Florida, Texas A&M University- College Station and more joined in on this effort!

For the past 5 months, individuals around the country volunteered their time to plan and implement this event in their city or campus. These individuals are a testament to the change occurring in the country and their role in Be the Change truly exemplified Mahatma Gandhi’s principle of ‘be the change you wish to see in the world”. Of course, we can’t forget the wonderful volunteers who came out on a Saturday morning because of their belief in the importance of making a difference and changing their community.

This year, Be the Change volunteers participated in activities such as revitalizing local parks in East Brunswick, New Jersey; packaging books for prisoners in Washington, DC; restoring the bay in San Francisco; and working with mentally and physically disabled children in New York and much more.

I would like to challenge everyone to let Be the Change be the first step. I challenge you to let this not be a day of service but a life of service– whether it be at your campus or university, in your workplace, with your friends or family, by volunteering or by creating your own organization- I challenge all of you to carry on this principle of being the change wherever you go and in whatever you do. I hope to see you ‘being the change’ for many years to come!

-Ramya Punnoose, National Coordinator of Be the Change ’08

Are you ready to “Be the Change” on Saturday, October 4th?

SAALT is gearing up for Be the Change 2008 and we wanted to thank all of our planning teams and local volunteers who have worked so hard over the past few months to plan for this national day of service! Be the Change, formerly known as the National Gandhi Day of Service, is coordinated by SAALT along with volunteers around the country. This year, we are excited that the event will be held in over 60 cities and campuses! You can find a full list of the cities and campuses here.This year’s theme for Be the Change is “Solidarity in Service” and we want to encourage all of our volunteers to keep this theme in mind when they are volunteering this year. This theme reflects the way community service can build coalitions, strengthen relationships, and bring about solidarity among people of different backgrounds.

Examples of service sites this year include:

Books to Prisons: Volunteers will be reading letters from prisoners, selecting books that match their request, and packaging the books to send the prisoners (Washington DC)

Hands on Atlanta Volunteers will be building wheelchair ramps, mentoring individuals in computer skills, and more. (Atlanta)

Ronald McDonald House: Volunteers will prepare a meal for, and serve families whose children are seriously ill and receiving treatment at nearby hospitals. (San Francisco)

Kids Enjoy Exercise Now (KEEN): Volunteers will be conducting recreational activities for kids in the program who have are mentally or physically challenged. (New York City)

Boston Healthcare for the Homeless: Volunteers will be

 

working with patients by leading activities like games, crafts, entertainment, etc.These are just a mere few service sites that Be the Change volunteers will be participating in this year. Stay tuned for an update about how Be the Change went and how you can continue your community involvement.