FSA visits Sanctuary for Families

Mayanka Dhingra, Staff Writer

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Last Saturday, four students from the school’s Feminists Students Association (FSA) visited Sanctuary for Families, a nonprofit organization located in the East Bronx that provides shelter for victims of gender inequality and domestic violence.

During their monthly visits, students get the chance to connect with women and their children seeking shelter at the organization by providing support and a distraction from the family’s dire circumstances. They often do this by making themed crafts with the kids and their moms, club advisor Dr. Wendy Steiner said. This time, members of FSA who attended the trip helped the kids make ladybugs out of paper, she said.

Gabi Sheybani (12), a frequent participant in trips to Sanctuary, decided to get involved after working with a similar organization for women with serious mental and physical disabilities in Iran, she said. Sheybani attends the trips because a life absent of gender violence is a human necessity, she said.

“The hour we spend at Sanctuary is incomprehensibly impactful because we have the opportunity to make a positive memory; giving the children an opportunity to be kids,” said Sheybani.

Sanctuary Coordinator, Sofia Gonzalez (11) said this time she left with a particularly rewarding feeling after reconnecting with families returning to the organization, she said. “There are definitely moms who come almost every month so it’s really nice to continue to connect with them.”

Steiner said that for her, “it’s very moving to witness the strength of these mothers who are trying to make a change for their kids.”

FSA co-president Azure Gao (12) said she is also a firm believer in the compelling effects the presence of students can have on people seeking shelter at the organization.

“The experience of attending Sanctuary is not only powerful for the people who go, but it’s also really powerful for those who are there to find support in people from the school,” Gao said.

Gao and Gonzalez both have a broad vision for the club’s future and hope to expand FSA’s outreach to include all matters of intersectionality into the larger conversation of feminism, they said.

Gonzalez believes the concept of feminism is more inclusive than just one’s gender identity, she said. “People experience feminism in distinct ways depending on their various different social identifiers.” By bringing other social injustices into the scope of gender-related issues, the club hopes to attain various new perspectives that will enrich the extent of their discussions, Gao said.

This year, FSA plans to host a discussion on intersectionality and has already held a discussion in light of the release of statements made by President Donald Trump circulating in last year’s presidential election campaign.

Due to Donald Trump’s recent weakening of civil rights protections afforded to transgender individuals, the FSA will be hosting a joint meeting with the Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA) on Monday in order to provide a forum for open dialogue addressing the roll back of transgender rights.

Mr. Nye faculty advisor for GSA, said that with the “A Day Without A Woman” nearing, the joint meeting is a most excellent opportunity to discuss common issues.