Graduates leaders train the new volunteers of SEPA Mujer using what they learned in the initial workshops. The trainings bring women together using popular education and other demonstrated community organizing techniques to strengthen self-esteem leading to enhanced communities in which immigrant women are active, informed participants in local efforts to improve their quality of life and ensure protection of human rights. The program consists of 20 training hours and incorporates information and skills-based sessions to develop leadership capacity among participants. Informational topics include legislative process in the United States, US immigration history, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Importantly, these trainings will build upon advocacy efforts begun in 2009 to strengthen the knowledge base of the group and their impact in the broader Long Island community.
SEPA Mujer member volunteers seek skills-based trainings that include how to organize and facilitate community meetings, document human rights abuses at the workplace or within the family, navigate educational opportunities, and access the social service and justice systems on Long Island. These skills are essential not only in the course of their community organizing initiatives, but for the day-to-day needs of the individual members and their families.
SEPA Mujer partnered with Latino Justice and NYS Department of Labor for a two-part workshop on workplace rights issues specifically affecting immigrant women. These trainings are highly informative and the volunteers seek to build upon what they learned with follow-up workshops.
One of the most profound ways SEPA Mujer volunteers contribute to the immigrant community is through the new Hermanas en la Ley program. This program pairs a volunteer who has selfpetitioned under VAWA or received a U visa with a SEPA Mujer client with a similar case.
Through this partnership, volunteers assist with drafting the required personal affidavit, which for many women is the first opportunity they have had to tell another person the intimate details of their abusive relationship. This support system has been critical in empowering immigrant women to leave abusive relationships and regain a sense of place in the community.
The leadership group holds trainings for members of the community to address policies and tactics of the Nassau and Suffolk County Police and social service providers that are anti-immigrant, anti-woman, and perpetuate community division and a climate of fear.
This initiative is two-fold. The first prong of the outreach is focusing on engaging a broader base of the Latina community. Volunteers, equipped with their additional leadership training, are conducting outreach to the immigrant community by partnering with other organizations to better address concerns of the Latina community living in both Long Island counties. This advocacy included know your rights trainings for immigrants when interacting with the police and cover legal remedies available to immigrant victims of crimes.
The second prong of this outreach addressed systems agencies that fail the Latina community. These trainings would especially target the Nassau and Suffolk County Police Departments to address language access for limited English proficient community members and address the documented failure of the Suffolk County Police Department to issue Domestic Incident Reports when they respond to a home with a non-English speaking victim. This effort also seeks to address the many gaps in services that are to be provided to the immigrant community by the Department of Social Services.
SEPA Mujer volunteers are concerned about their lack of a voice in the political process and the accountability of elected officials. Volunteers have been meeting with their elected representatives to assure they are not discounted in a process that historically neglects them. The volunteers are ready to take that voice to Albany and beyond and seek relevant trainings to assist them in this process. These leadership trainings would address legislative process in the United States, the history of United States immigration policy, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and include a day spent meeting with elected officials in Albany. SEPA Mujer volunteers would also attend the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women to make connections between violence against immigrant women at the local level and its relationship to the status of women globally.
Formed partnership with SBDC (Small Business Development Center ) Stony Brook. The Project will focus on women’s social insertion in the new market economy in order to ensure their access to new income through own business creation. Support of the initiatives for enterprise creation will be provided through the delivery of individual business tutorship, trainings, consulting and networking.
Language barriers limit or even prohibit individuals with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) from accessing and/or understanding important rights, obligations, and services. Consequently, the lack of interpreter and language services within the police, courts, and social service agencies has led to
flagrant civil rights violations within the immigrant community on Long Island. Children, alleged perpetrators, and unqualified bystanders are being used as interpreters between immigrant victims and county agencies and many clients of SEPA Mujer are reporting that police are not taking Domestic Incident Reports, and in come cases, even arresting LEP victims due to lack of interpreters. To address these concerns, SEPA Mujer in partnership with Empire Justice and many other advocacy organizations on Long Island have formed the Long Island Language Advocates Coalition (LILAC) to document and address these violations of civil liberties and human rights.
LILAC also serves as a forum to address the issues raised by SEPA Mujer volunteers in the course of their organizing and build upon their efforts of coalition-building to affect systemic change. To learn more about Lilac go to http://www.longislandlanguageadvocates.org/