When Masha* got the news that her sister needed her help recovering from surgery in the U.S., she knew she had to go. She made arrangements for her two-year-old daughter, Alexa*, to stay behind in Kazakhstan with her grandmother. Though living apart would be difficult, Masha hoped that eventually, this temporary visa would be the first step away from her abusive husband and one step closer to a safe future.
"In Kazakhstan, there are no services or protection from domestic violence for women," explains Elizabeth Schön Vainer, director of Journey to Safety (JTS), a JF&CS program funded by CJP. "After Masha arrived in the U.S., she was terrified to return to her husband, and she wanted her daughter to have a better life. She reached out to JTS and our Russian-speaking domestic abuse advocate for help."
Together, they scaled a mountain of paperwork, helping Masha obtain public benefits and achieve asylum status that allowed her to remain and work in the U.S. legally. Masha's mother was able to bring Alexa to the U.S., and JTS helped Masha find the legal assistance she needed to get divorced and to obtain custody of her child. Thanks in part to funding from CJP, JTS was able to help this brave young mother make a new start. Her JTS advocate helped her to get a small apartment with donated furnishings and connected her to the Family Table food pantry.
Last year, nearly 200 people affected by domestic abuse benefited from intensive case management, advocacy, information or referrals provided by this program. Another 727 people participated in domestic abuse education, outreach and training. CJP's financial support is essential to providing specialized services, like the Russian-speaking advocate who helped Masha.
"I'm so grateful for all the help I got. I was scared and so far from home. Having someone who cares and who speaks your language makes a big difference," says Masha.
As soon as she was legally able to work, Masha took on several part-time jobs, and applied for a Journey to Safety Empowerment Grant that paid for training for her to become a Certified Nursing Assistant. Today, she is focused on earning her bachelor's degree and continuing to advance in her career.
Thanks to your support, today Masha and her daughter are living in safety, free from violence and with prospects for a productive new life ahead. Thank you!
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Click here to learn more.
* Names changed to protect privacy.