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Looking Back and Moving Forward

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!

From Asians & Pacifc Islanders in Solidarity

In the past year, Monsoon increased and strengthened programs, made huge strides in community outreach and education, and most of all, served even more community members who have moved ahead to self-sufficiency and safety.  

And if you hadn't already noticed, we tweaked our name a bit from "Monsoon United Asian Women of Iowa," to be more inclusive of the communities that we build and serve.

Monsoon continues to work towards our mission to end gender-based violence.  We will continue to provide victim/survivor + family + community-centered work and implement innovative programming in 2019. 

Highlights of 2018

* We celebrated our 15th anniversary with a Garden to Kitchen Pop-Up Cooking Class with produce from our community garden.

* We advocated for our communities against the public-charge rule with a video and letters to legislators and in support of parent-child unification over border action in collaboration with APIAHF (Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum). We also participated in the #Believe Survivors drive following a call by the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault (IowaCASA) to join the National Walkout campaign.

* Several women served by Monsoon have received the Alice Barton Scholarship, which is administered by the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ICADV) and awarded to survivors of domestic violence through annual scholarships for education and job training.

* We welcomed the establishment of the Iowa Coalition for Collective Change (ICCC) into our fold. ICCC specializes in empowering organizations and marginalized communities through education, research and advocacy.

* Monsoon collaborated with several organizations in Iowa City, such as the Rape Victim Advocacy Program (RVAP), Women’s Resource and Action Center (WRAC) and Domestic Violence Intervention Program (DVIP), as well as the University of Iowa’s Office of the Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator (OSMRC) and the Iowa City Police Department, to raise awareness of gender-based violence, exchange insights and ideas on culturally appropriate responses.

* Besides building a strong partnership with DVIP in Iowa City, Monsoon also strengthened its partnerships on direct services with Crisis Intervention and Advocacy Center of Adel; Cedar Valley Friends of the Family in Waterloo; Domestic Violence Services of Children and Families of Iowa in Des Moines; Waypoint Services in Cedar Rapids; and ACCESS (Assault Care Center Extending Shelter and Support) in Ames.

* To challenge cultural taboos about sex and sexuality in the Asian community, Monsoon began holding fortnightly Yoni Chats at WRAC’s office with community members in Iowa City; at Grinnell College with Asian students; and in Des Moines with youths from the Karenni Burmese ethnic community and with female students at Hoover High School. Yoni Chats, which we established in October 2012, uses artful approaches to cover topics that range from racial identity to cultural norms and their impact on sexual health and expression.

* For Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) in April, Monsoon’s campus advocates at the University of Iowa planned several activities, such as “Sole Survivor”; “Boundaries: The Art of Self-Care”; and “Not Your Yellow Fever: Sexual Violence in API Communities” training with the Delta Phi Lambda. At Drake University in Des Moines, advocates organized a “Safety Mocktail” event. Monsoon also performed “If Our Yonis Could Talk” at a café in Des Moines.

* We also engaged with faith-based sites where API congregants gather, such as temples and churches, in the Des Moines area. In addition, we took initial steps to address mental health issues in API communities by holding an assessment and awareness-raising workshop for Burmese ethnic Karen community members in Des Moines; we are planning more such events for other API populations in Central Iowa. 

* During Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) in October, Monsoon hosted a Forum Theatre session in Coralville that participants appreciated greatly and that led to another session with University of Iowa international students. More such productions are in the works.

* Monsoon staffers also led and participated in Take Back the Night events, Pride Week, World Refugee Day celebrations, United Nations Association annual gala, CelebrAsian Festival and the “And Then They Came for Us” film screening about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

* We also led and facilitated presentations about Monsoon in college classrooms, for student associations, at diversity centers, at public health fairs and in commercial spaces, and for court employees and with legal experts, among many others.

* Monsoon advocates attended conferences and trainings out of state: Chicago; Los Angeles, Anaheim and Berkeley in California; and Detroit.

* Our national program, National Organization of API Ending Sexual Violence (NAPIESV), provided 15 trainings and 24 technical assistance sessions to API-led organizations nationally and the U.S. Territories in the Pacific.  For more information about NAPIESV, contact nina@napiesv.org.  

Upcoming Events

* Creative open and closed support groups involving weaving and crocheting throughout the year

* A webinar on working with international students in February 2019 

* A theatre fundraiser for Asian Heritage Month in May 2019

Underserved Communites Grant Program

Progress Update

Federal and state grants for underserved communities have helped fund three groups under Monsoon's supervision  SAFI (Support for Arabs in Iowa); CRC (Community Resource Center) headed by Bhutanese; and the local chapter of NaFFAA (National Federation of Filipino American Associations)  to raise awareness of sexual violence and help provide services to victims of sexual assault.  Apart from helping Monsoon organize and participating in community dialogues targeting service providers in Central Iowa, the groups have been using creative approaches within their respective communities to examine gender-based violence and seek solutions because overt discussions of sex and sexuality are generally considered taboo in API communities  and the other groups' outreach has taken interesting turns. 

Monsoon Youth Advocacy

2018 Youth Violence Prevention Program Year in Review 

VPP Year in Review | Produced and Edited by Ethan Ung

Youth Interns Explore the Connection between Violence & Homelessness

In December, Monsoon’s youth interns, in partnership with the Iowa Homeless Youth Center (IHYC), held a community event to raise awareness about the intersection of gender-based violence and homelessness in Central Iowa. Held at Grand View University, the Wash Away Violence and Homelessness Laundry Drive and Blanket Making Workshop featured vigorous discussions on the topic and a campaign to collect household items for families at IHYC. One participant said: “It really opened my mind to these issues that I thought were more national and showed that they’re a lot closer to home than you would normally think.”

 Watch the video VPP made leading up to the event here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6MWdoTVo1g

VPP Highlights from 2018:

  • Monsoon's Violence Prevention Program (VPP) was revitalized with a new leader and a diverse team of youth interns. 
  • In January, VPP visited WHO Channel 13 to discuss sexual violence in the media.  The segment aired on WHO's social media.   
  • VPP's 2nd 2 Annual Decolonizing Beauty Fashion Show took place in May at Java Joes in Des Moines.  The purpose of the show was to redefine beauty standards past the Eurocentric ideals to which youth may be held. 
  • VPP, in conjunction with AF3IRM, a transnational feminist organization, held their 5th Annual Summer School of Youth Activism in June.  This 4-day program took place at the DMACC Capitol Center and Monsoon's Transitional House.  Youths learned about community organizing, and participated in the Families Belong Together Rally on June 30 in Des Moines. 
  • VPP interns met with members of the Des Moines Public School Board and the Iowa Department of Education to discuss ways in which Iowa school districts could be more inclusive of marginalized communities to help prevent violence.  One strategy included increasing representation in school administration and in K-12 social studies content.

Upcoming VPP Projects:

  • The RALIANCE team, a sub-team of the VPP, will be facilitating a 10-week Healthy Masculinity Boys Group at Callanan Middle School in Des Moines.  RALIANCE is an initiative of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center aimed at ending sexual violence in one generation. 
  • The Sexual Violence Prevention Team, another VPP sub-team, will be facilitating Yoni Chats 10-week sessions with API female students at Hoover High School in Des Moines.  This is a violence prevention curriculum for Asian youth focusing on healthy relationships.  
  • From January 28-29, VPP youths will be attending the University of Northern Iowa’s Midwest Symposium on Men’s Leadership & Accountability Around ending sexual violence in one generation.  Participants will join national and international thinkers, writers and practitioners including Jackson Katz to discuss strategies and approaches to reduce and eliminate male violence.  
  • On February 28, VPP youths will be attending the University of Iowa’s What About Me(n) Summit on and will lead a breakout session to discuss strategies to promote healthy masculinity.  

CALLING ALL VOLUNTEERS

Are you interested in volunteering with Monsoon as an On-Call Volunteer Multilingual Advocate or Community Outreach Worker? Email contact@monsooniowa.org for more information or email Mira Yusef at mira@monsooniowa.org  for the volunteer application form.
Thank you for your support! 

Des Moines Office:
4952 Franklin Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa 50310
Tel: 515.288.0881; fax: 515.277.7665
Helpline: 1.866.881.4641

Iowa City Office:
Eastdale Plaza, Suite 18, 1700 S 1st Avenue, Iowa City, IA 52240
Tel: 319.466.9000; fax: 319.351.1044

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Monsoon Asians & Pacific Islanders in Solidarity · 4944 Franklin Avenue Suite B · Des Moines, Iowa 50310 · USA

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