[Dhai-ah] noun, from the Sanskrit
A feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering
In the Spring of 1996, a young South Asian woman living in Fort Bend County shot and killed her abusive husband of ten years, her three young children and then, after setting fire to their home, turned the gun on herself. The news made international headlines as the extent of abuse and violence this educated professional woman had suffered became apparent. Still, the questions as to why she didn’t reach out for help and what were the cultural complexities that drove her to this desperate decision, lingered. The fact that a professional woman, accustomed to life in the United States, kept the abuse to herself and did not seek help spoke volumes.
As a response, seven women – all immigrants to the United States themselves – founded Daya, a compassionate and culturally sensitive organization for South Asian women affected by domestic violence. The first step was establishing a volunteer helpline to support the women in their community, and with that Daya was born.