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Daya (Houston)


Preliminary Historical Note

In 1996, a tragic event rocked the South Asian community of Houston when a young South Indian woman shot her husband and her three children, set the house on fire and killed herself. It turned out that she had suffered major abuse at the hands of her husband for over ten years, and had not confided in anyone––even though she would listen sympathetically to her friends as they described their own problems. She was educated, held a job and spoke English. Stunned by this tragedy, Lakshmy Parameswaran and a small group of women decided that a referral service was not enough, as “it was not reaching the right people.” The volunteers transformed their liaison office into a women’s help center, calling it Daya, which means “compassion” in Sanskrit. It serves all South Asians, from Indians, to Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans, Nepalese, Bhutanese, Sikkimese and Afghans.

The cultural specificity of Daya as a South Asian service organization fills a need in Houston; its counselors and case managers understand victims at a deeply emotional level. They are familiar with South Asian family dynamics and South Asian religious customs. In addition, because Daya’s counselors speak many different South Asian languages, the victims did not need to rely on the services of translators.

Daya received seed funding from the Indo-American Charity Foundation (IACF). The IACF, a non-profit organization created by Indian Americans, was founded in 1988, and has the motto: “We live here, we give here.” Its philanthropic focus is on four major areas in Houston: “Education, family, general welfare and healthcare.” The seed money was enough to set up a hotline and to have volunteers come in to check on phone messages. The Indian community was close-knit, and no one wanted to admit openly to having suffered domestic abuse.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Daya Houston records

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: 2019-043
Dates: 2001-2019
Content Description The collection contains articles and news clippings on Daya publicity, program fliers, Daya newsletters, seminar materials, and fundraiser programs.