Gratitude-ing Up & Giving Back!

Dear friends,

On Thursday, August 29th, I’ll be donating half my hair and fund-raising for five domestic violence and rape crisis organizations to celebrate my birthday. I find myself at a point in life where “growing up” has a lot to do with ‘gratitude-ing up’ and ‘paying it forward’. It also means asking for help sometimes.

In that spirit, I’m humbly asking my friends, colleagues, and members of my various communities to consider donating $35 to help these organizations continue their invaluable work. 

The organizations that are listed below have had a direct and positive impact in my life and/or in communities in which I currently (or previously) serve(d).  Please help me support these amazing organizations -- you can learn more about their incredible work, below. (There’s also a final note from me at the end. ☺)

A Child’s Voice Foundation (Canada) provides wigs to financially disadvantaged children in Canada who have lost their hair due to a medical condition or treatment. When we were 10 years old, my best friend at the time, Jennifer, became ill with leukemia. I learned so much through her pain and resilience; about managing grief when a loved one is sick; and about the confidence restoring involuntarily lost hair can give a person. I wish I could do more, but hair is what I have to give so that’s exactly what I’m giving!

My hair will be cut by Lowell, who we affectionately call the Queen of Queen St. She has taught me so much about the beauty and challenges of the trans experience. She’s donating her time and her fierce hair-cutting skills to make this donation happen. I can’t thank this beauty enough!

The National Centre for Domestic Violence (UK) provides free, fast, and effective support to survivors of domestic violence and abuse, usually by helping individuals obtain emergency domestic violence injunctions. I took my very first legal cases with this organization and learned so much, including  how to support survivors of violence in navigating the court system. The NCDV never charges survivors for using their services, but additional supports are necessary and needed. Once an injunction has been granted, survivors need to serve (deliver) the Court Order to their abuser in order for it to be enforceable. Delivering the order can be life-threateningly dangerous for the survivor so a process server has to be hired to deliver the Order instead.   The Cottman Foundation  works closely with the NCDV, providing survivors with grants to pay for process servers. The funds raised  will go to the Cottman Foundation and will be used to pay for the NCDV’s clients’ process server fees.

The Ashiana Network  (UK) is a holistic, multi-service agency that runs three refuges (shelters) for women and children escaping domestic violence and forced marriages. Ashiana's services include providing advice, counselling, and outreach to survivors of violence; and they carry out a variety of advocacy and prevention initiatives. This is where I first served survivors of forced marriages and learned about the devastating, direct link between domestic violence and homelessness. 

The Redwood Shelter  (Canada) in Toronto provides  women and children shelter from domestic violence. They provide families with case management and counselling services, access to empowering and life-changing programs, and transitional support when they are ready to take the steps toward a new life. I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with Redwood staff as we collectively try to manage the consequences of domestic and family violence on our community.

The Toronto Rape Crisis Centre / Multicultural Women Against Rape  (Canada) was the first place I volunteered when I moved to Toronto, serving as a volunteer rape crisis counsellor for three years. The TRCC taught me how to support survivors of sexual violence; build and promote consent-culture; and how to cultivate and participate as a member of a compassionate community.

The Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic offers legal representation, professional counselling, and multilingual interpretation to women who have experienced violence. Their diverse, skilled and compassionate staff accompany women through personal and practical transformation, helping them to build lives free from violence. The Clinic has court support workers in the same courts in which I serve. They are an integral institution in helping the family law community keep the clientele we serve safe. 

I’m lucky to have friends and mentors from, and within, these organizations, and can’t thank them enough for what they have done for me and for our communities.

Here’s my ask …. 

Whether you’re giving me a birthday gift, saying ‘thank you’ yourself, or paying it forward, I hope you’ll consider donating to these groups. I’ve personally served the same client-base, often within the organizations themselves --  I know how much good each dollar / pound / euro can do.  

In order to fund-raise a meaningful amount for each of these organizations, my hope is to raise CAD $5,000 splitting all funds evenly amongst the five groups. 

If 143 people donate $35 each (£22 / €24 / US$26)  this goal is achievable  -- I would appreciate if you would consider donating and sharing this link with your friends, family, and colleagues to help me support these wonderful organizations! 

Thank you in advance for helping me celebrate, practice asking for help, and expressing my gratitude,



Raheena Dahya
Toronto, ON

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