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.