Monsoon hosts educational forums and events for API communities across Iowa. The topics that have been covered are cultural identities, gender roles, immigration, and human trafficking.
Monsoon also believes in going out to the community instead of waiting for the community to approach the organization. One of the more recent initiatives is a Karen women’s gathering, facilitated by a Monsoon advocate, which is being held twice a month to discuss hurdles the community faces as Iowa’s newer immigrants and explore possible solutions. Such moves not only improve the organization’s relationships with API communities, but they also play a big role in bringing about community healing, an important factor in the prevention of violence.
Monsoon understands that because victims’ needs are diverse, collaboration with other service providers is essential to providing optimal services. The organization has been partnering successfully with shelter-based programs in Iowa, but especially with the Domestic Violence Services (DVS) in Des Moines, particularly with referrals for API victims from both sides. Monsoon’s staffers also regularly network and advocate for victims among other service providers, such as representatives from the Des Moines, West Des Moines, Urbandale and Johnston police departments, correctional services, county attorney’s offices, Iowa Legal Aid (ILA), Children and Families of Iowa (CFI), MECCA behavioral health services, LUNA (Latinas Unidas por un Nuevo Amanecer), Planned Parenthood, Drake University and Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC), among others. The organization also has been involved in the training of the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy’s recruits.
In addition, Monsoon collaborates with ILA and Justice For Our Neighbors (JFON), a faith-based organization offering free immigration services, in providing legal assistance, such as VAWA applications, to victims from the API communities. In reciprocal moves, ILA and JFON refer API victims to Monsoon for services such as counseling and support groups. Similarly, Catholic Charities and Lutheran Services in Iowa (LSI) have referred victims to Monsoon, and Monsoon has received assistance on food, housing and mental health services from the two organizations. Monsoon has also collaborated with LSI on community education efforts with API refugees through presentations. Also, Monsoon has sought training from the Iowa Department of Human Services’ Child Protective Services (CPS) to help improve advocacy for victims dealing with CPS. In Iowa City, Monsoon collaborates with the University of Iowa’s Office of Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator in providing support and counseling services to victims of sexual assault, dating violence and stalking from the international student community.
One of Monsoon’s community outreach strategy has been the establishment of the Bayanihan Asian Community Resource Center. The center allows Monsoon to bring in local API communities without triggering the hesitancy frequently accorded to organizations strictly devoted to domestic violence and sexual assault. The center provides information and resources on legal and human services, health and wellness, housing, education and employment for API residents in central Iowa. In addition, Monsoon runs a weekly Women’s Sewing Circle at the center to train and empower participants to become social entrepreneurs. Through such interactions at the center, an individual is familiarized with Monsoon’s direct services. This community support is aimed at eventually building trust in Monsoon and spreading the word further about the organization. Monsoon also collaborates with several Asian ethnicity-based organizations – Filipino, Karen, Lao, Tai-Dam Vietnamese and Cambodian – to hold community events at the center. The organizations have also referred API victims to Monsoon as well as helped find interpreters and raise funds for direct services. In addition, Monsoon partners with Gateway Dance Theatre (GDT), a Des Moines-based program, to hold community get-togethers and with the Iowa Youth Writing Project (IYWP), an Iowa City-based program, on creative writing projects for youths and their families.
The center is open Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call ahead for an appointment.
Are you interested in joining Monsoon’s “bayanihan” (a Filipino term for communal unity) spirit and volunteering at the center? Share your ideas on community development by calling Monsoon at 515.288.0881 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are in need of community members who are interested in running the center during the weekend!
Monsoon’s violence prevention program is guided by community change strategies, such as mass mobilization, social action, public advocacy, and empowerment theory and participatory action research. The program focuses on API youths from middle and high schools in central Iowa. Monsoon believes that youths are vital to the movement to end gender-based violence and the best source to tap into for the prevention of sexual violence. The program was set up in 2008, and since then, numerous youths from five schools around Des Moines have joined in – as interns, peer-to-peer advocates, volunteers and participants. Through internships, in-school and after-school programs, and community education events, Monsoon began to increase awareness about sexual assault, dating violence and stalking under the program. The curricula for the in-school and after-school programs focused on analyzing culture, histories of oppression, forms of violence and violence prevention in API communities, so the youths were thoroughly informed. Monsoon’s youth interns have also attended national conferences and made presentations as well as received trainings, such as from the Center for Digital Storytelling in California. The annual API youth summit, which the interns organize in Des Moines with the help of youth coordinators, is one of the highlights of the program. Among several other related events have been an interactive gathering on addressing dating violence in collaboration with LGBTQ youths; breakdancing jams; Flash Mobs; and Forum Theater performances. Families of the youth interns are encouraged to participate in the program to educate and motivate API communities on ending gender-based violence. The program is available to help facilitate other violence prevention projects in schools and community organizations as well as for presenting at youth conferences.
Monsoon’s API Youth Council has been revived this Fall 2013 and has been meeting every month to plan for monthly youth events. If you are interested in joining the council, contact Helen Dao at email@example.com.
We are listening...