Bronx nonprofit helps South Asian immigrants learn English to navigate necessary U.S. systems

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NEW YORK — Our #BetterTogether: Season of Giving is teaming up with our partners from New York Common Pantry to bring awareness to food insecurity.

CBS New York’s Shosh Bedrosian reports on their collaboration with small organizations who help feed the most vulnerable in the Bronx.

In the comfort of a town home off Waterbury Avenue, a group of South Asian women are learning the basics of English.

“The class that we’re having today is for women who are actually starting from zero,” said Diya Basa-Sen, executive director of SapnaNYC.

The quiet, tight-knit space teaches and encourages women to speak with confidence.

“Essentially survival skills so that if they’re walking on the street, if they get lost or there’s an emergency, they know what to do and what to say,” Basa-Sen said.

And to practice with native speakers, like Bedrosian.

SapnaNYC provides essential social services to help new immigrants adapt to systems in the United States that are difficult to navigate. 

“They don’t have access to the same information because so many of them don’t really have English proficiency,” Basa-Sen said.

The small nonprofit recognized the food insecurity that impacts this community. They partnered with New York Common Pantry to distribute food packages every two weeks to women in their programs.

“A lot of the bags actually go to some of our most vulnerable community members. Many of them are survivors of domestic violence, they’re undocumented, maybe newer immigrants,” Basa-Sen said.

Bag by bag, the group says the partnership allows these women to benefit from programs they wouldn’t be able to find on their own.

“Having an organization like SAPNA can actually bridge those barriers and make sure that we’re reaching all the different populations that really have that need,” Basa-Sen said.

For more on CBS New York’s #BetterTogether: Season of Giving, click here.

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