Laal provides resources that Bengali women need to live healthy, engaged, joyful lives.
Laal is a 501(c)(3), community organization dedicated to providing resources and economic opportunities based the needs of Bangladeshi women in the Bronx. We are currently focused in the Norwood section of the Bronx, where there is a growing Bangladeshi immigrant community from the Sylhet region of Bangladesh.
The founding directors, Sanjana Khan and Ayesha Akhtar, grew up in Norwood and are both from Sylhet, Bangladesh. They have witnessed the issues that Bangladeshi women face in the community first hand; depression and domestic violence being the most prevalent and pressing among the Bangladeshi women in Norwood. Many of these women come to this country without the language skills, family support, or economic resources to successfully integrate into American society. They are uncomfortable with doing basic tasks alone, such as using the subway or going to the hospital. They are often confined to their homes, and isolated from their families and relatives, becoming dependent on their husbands in ways they would not be in their home country.
Laal is working to create programming that will fill the gap in knowledge, skills, and resources that Bengali women need to live healthy, engaged, joyful lives.
We envision a self-sustaining community of Bengali women. We aim for the resources and educational programs we provide to create a lasting and meaningful impact on Bangladeshi women in the Bronx.
In addition to our programming, within the next 3-5 years we commit to creating a dedicated physical space where Bangladeshi women can congregate, work, and meet. Bangladeshi women in Norwood lack a safe, public space to convene.While Bangladeshi men frequent culturally masculine spaces, such as neighborhood restaurants and mosques, Bangladeshi women of the Bronx lack a safe, public space to convene.
Both founders have extensive experience in the nonprofit world. Many of the non-profits they have worked for, no matter how well-intentioned, have been run by outsiders of the community. Our approach comes from listening directly to what the community needs, and conducting a well-rounded assessment of the impact of the resources we provide. Although we are of the community, we never want to assume anything. After every cycle, we work to improve and iterate on the programs to meet the changing needs of our community.