bazah roohi

Most Awarded Woman/ Gold Medalist

Bazah Roohi, Founderand Executive director of American Council of Minority Women (ACMW). ACMW was established in July 2005 by the women of Minority Community of the USA for the empowerment, development, protection and promotion of human rights of women in the USA, and particularly in the state of New York. This organization was incorporated with the State of New York in 2009.

For years, numerous women here have approached me in the USA who has faced abuse and other problems. I have provided them support in seeking divorce and the majority has remarried. While providing this informal support to Pakistani women living in the United States, I have always felt the root cause of problems is within Pakistan. Some of the problems women face are due to the culture and traditions, but some are also due to laws that make it harder for women to seek justice.

Ever since moving to the USA in 1998, I have developed close connections with several women’s rights and human right’s organizations and groups in Pakistan including Aurat Foundation, Human Right’s Commission for Pakistan, War Against Rape, Synergy, and many others. I have also developed networks with South Asian and Muslim Domestic violence organizations in the USA including Anaa, International crises center, Equality Now and Girls Learn International.

While continuing to increase awareness regarding violence against women, ACMW has also broadened the agenda to include all abuses of human rights. We are the first Pakistani-American organization in the USA that focuses on human rights abuses in Pakistan. ACMW has established Adult Literacy Center in Brooklyn, which has enabled 26 women to read and write. English language and computer learning was also taught to them. Women benefited from this as they learnt vocal and communication skills that in the future helped them in their jobs and everyday life.

ACMW also worked on spreading the rich culture and tradition of Pakistan. Chand Raat Bazaar initiated in 2009 (Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn, New York) for celebration of end of the holy month of Ramadan. The women of the community are invited to display their stalls, and to introduce and sell their products to the broader community. This festival was celebrated with full passion. The event was well received and was very successful. One of the current projects that I personally am very proud of is our Food Pantry program. This program helps people who are jobless and cannot afford basic groceries for their children at the moment and we supply them with monthly grocery. The first food pantry took place on December 28, 2009 at ACMW office and all the women members participated the inaugural ceremony and made donations for it and showed their zeal and commitment for the continuation of the pantry. Food bags of basic provisions were distributed to forty four families, and these bags are being distributed every month. We also inform women of the several benefits they can have from the state if they qualify. So this organization is making them aware about public assistance as well as providing food to them. We also started Skills Learning Classes for the empowerment of women. Every Ramadan, we do Ramadan Food Box distribution. On Eid ul Adha, we do halal meat distribution of 2,500 pounds of meat.

Being part of ACMW, we have organized many events, such as Toys for Tots, where we have distributed toys to children on Christmas. We have also distributed back to school supplies to children. Also, ACMW has collected donations and food cans for Haiti victims and sent them to Haiti. Hence, we have also worked for Hurricane Irene victims in New York City; we had three different camps in three different Brooklyn locations. At least 10 families stayed in our camps, meal and lodging were provided. During Hurricane Sandy, we provided support for 13 days. Collectively, we provided 32,890 meals to families in the FDR High School turned shelter in Brooklyn, NY. In addition, we have collected donations in 2009 for flood victims in Pakistan and we have collected a lot of used clothes and send it through Pakistan International Airline.

Currently, we are working in relief efforts against COVID-19. Brooklyn was a Hotspot for COVID-19, and we did not want people to risk their health and lives for food. My volunteers risked their lives and went out in those conditions to get people what they needed. The current count of families helped is around 1800. This number is still growing as this project is ongoing, though we are short of funds. We are trying to collect private donations to keep this going. Along with that, we had a food pantry where once a month, we would give essential groceries to those who needed. Currently, we are distributing food boxes outside our office (300 boxes) every Tuesday as part of the Halal Food Distribution program started by the Mayor, which will be ending on June 12th. Along with that, there are still several people who are unable to leave their house due to fear, old age, or health issues. Me and my volunteers are going door to door to these people to make sure they're getting the food box. Along with that, we opened the first Pakistani COVID-19 testing site.

As a woman, I can feel other women’s pain. I know how it feels when a mother has to see their child go to sleep hungry, or when a wife supports her husband no matter how cruel he is to her. What I have done for my fellow sisters is considered to me as a single grain in a bag of rice, but to me I feel like I have done something and I will continue to do it as long as I live as problems arise everyday. Helping the community is my only concern and being the female, I feel that my community’s women are discriminated in terms of education and I want to provide them the basic education, so they can stand on their feet. ACMW and I are always ready to provide help. We will continue to fight against injustice.

Recognitions

·         Proclamation by Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke

·         Proclamation by New York State Senate Eric Adam

·         Citation from Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz on Annual Iftar Dinner

·         Award of Extraordinary Woman (2010) from the Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes.

·         Citation from Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz

·         Independent Judiciary Award from Pak-American Lawyers Movement

·         Gold Medal from National Unity Council of Pakistan USA Inc.

·         City Council Citation from the Council Member Mathieu Eugene(40th District)

·         Distinguished Overseas Pakistani Woman Award from National Press Club Islamabad

·         Citation and Medal from Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano.

·         Coney Island Neighborhood Ambassador From the Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes. 

·         Member of Community Board 14, Brooklyn

·         Graduate of Police Citizen Academy

·         Citation from NYS Assemblymember James F. Brennan

·         Commendation from the City of New York John C. Liu Comptroller

·         Citation from the Nassau County Office of the Executive

·         Gold Medal from the Nassau County from Executive Edward Mangano

·         Citation from the office of President Borough of Brooklyn 2011.