Dear AHA Foundation Supporter,
As the end of the year approaches, I recall the Foundation’s beginnings – five years ago, it was a small group of my friends and me sitting in a borrowed boardroom together, hoping to use my experience, my voice and my connections to expose honor violence and help the girls and women in the US living in fear.
Today, I see a robust community of supporters, people like you, who care and continue taking on this fight. Thanks to your support, more than one thousand service providers have been trained in identifying and handling cases of honor violence. With the help of legislators who took the time to listen, we have been able to specifically criminalize female genital mutilation in three states (with more in the works!). Just this fall, a generous donor who, like you, understands we’re stronger when we work together, gave a $50,000 match donation to help us double that gift. It truly does take a village, as they say. And you are an important part of this village. You are my extended family whose continued support has created remarkable change.
Thank you! On behalf of the girls we have reached, who are safer because of our programs, I thank you for making sure we can make a difference in each of their lives.
In this issue of the newsletter, you will read about our exciting new initiatives including our support of new legislation in Massachusetts to criminalize FGM. We are proud to report that as leading experts on honor violence, we were recently approached by the office of Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister to provide testimony to the Canadian Senate, which is considering an important piece of legislation. This legislation, if passed, would protect women and girls from forced marriage and polygamy, and ensure perpetrators convicted of honor killings are not able to use honor as a reason to receive reduced sentences. Our own Executive Director, Stephanie Baric, has delivered the testimony, which we are pleased to share with you in this newsletter. Finally, we highlight the potential that new technologies have in helping women and girls in crisis through an inspiring story of a young woman who was taken abroad to be forced into a marriage to a stranger.
We’re slowly making progress towards our annual fundraising goal. We still need your help in order to launch life-saving programs like the helpline. The great news is that for every dollar we receive, your donation will be DOUBLED until we hit $50,000. That means that today, your support gets us twice as close to launching the helpline and other critical programs. We have already achieved beyond what I hoped for when we first began, I can’t wait to see how much we accomplish together in 2015!
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Founder, The AHA Foundation