Friday, June 29, 2012

Five Exciting Things Happening at IOFA

1. We reached 60% of our fundraising goal for the 2012 Spring/Summer Appeal - there's still time to give:

2. Tomorrow night, June 30th, is our first major fundraiser of the year; Bollywood Nights.  If you're in Chicago, please attend. Join us for a night of music with Bollywood singer, Poonam Bhatia at the Alhambra Palace.

3. IOFA was awarded $4,000 from the Asian Giving Circle for our Asian-American Trafficking Outreach Project (AATOP). IOFA will be building collaborative community partnerships to identify more victims of trafficking and exploitation in Chicago's Asian American communities.  More to come.

4. Executive Director, Shelby French and IOFA interns, Amy Gilbert (Loyola University) and Aatifa Sadiq (University of Chicago) will be traveling to Ethiopia this weekend to pilot Project Prepare Ethiopia; a life skills curriculum to prepare youth to age out of orphanage care.  Check our blog for updates from the field every Friday from July through September.

5. And please welcome the newest additions to our IOFA team: Nikhitha Murali and Kelleen O'Leary.

Nikhitha Murali, University of Chicago

As I finish my first year as an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, I am thrilled to begin my internship this summer at IOFA! I plan on majoring in Comparative Human Development with a minor in Biology. My previous experience advocating for health equity in rural India has fostered within me a great love of service. It was in India that I was first exposed to the horrors of third world poverty, corruption, and their implications. After volunteering as a patient advocate in a South Side clinic, I was shocked to find that many problems typically associated with third world destitution are prevalent right here in Chicago. I am hugely astonished and frustrated by the lack of attention human trafficking has received both in Chicago and globally. As I begin my summer, I look forward to learning understanding the issue of human trafficking on a local level, as well as understanding how I can best serve affected populations from the nonprofit sector.

Working with Asian American communities will be one of my primary projects here at IOFA as I work to develop the Asian American Trafficking Outreach Project (AATOP). I look forward to developing partnerships with Asian American community members in order to facilitate the recognition and proper treatment of trafficking victims, particularly by establishing rapport among mental health providers. I am grateful to be joining my inspiring and accomplished colleagues at IOFA in representing these underserved victims, and excited for the learning opportunities this summer will bring!

Kelleen O’Leary, Loyola University

I am a rising 3L at Loyola University Chicago’s law school and am excited to work with IOFA this summer.  I am interested in the area of child law, and law school has afforded me many opportunities to get hands-on experience in this field.  I have previously volunteered as a Court Appointed Special Advocate and interned at the Civitas ChildLaw Clinic.  By mixing direct service with behind-the-scenes experience, my volunteer work and my internship together helped me to discover that the area of child law resonates deeply with me. Working with IOFA gives me the chance to work on several international children’s rights projects.  I will be concentrating my efforts on coordinating the ChildRight project and assisting with the Transitions Initiative.  I look forward to the challenges of on-the-ground advocacy  both in the urban context of Chicago and on a larger international scale.

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