We are the Newest New Yorkers

The Adhikaar story begins in 2005 when four young immigrant women of color came together to discuss the growing inequality experienced by the emerging Nepali-speaking community in New York. With $500 and a vision of justice, Adhikaar began collecting stories of injustice endured by immigrant workers: domestic workers, nail salon workers, restaurant workers, taxi workers and others who were falling through the cracks due to the lack of linguistic and culturally specific resources.

Operating first out of a donated space and run entirely by volunteers, Adhikaar slowly began building its base by holding community consultations and individual conversations to understand our community’s needs and priorities. We responded to calls about unpaid wages, employment discrimination, unemployment, and domestic violence. The programs were a direct response to the immediate and urgent unmet needs. We offered English for Empowerment Classes, Know Your Rights workshops, and one-on-one direct service. This hands-on approach provided a strong foundation for community organizing and grassroots advocacy.

In 2007, Adhikaar established an active community center (the first one for the Nepali-speaking community) in Woodside, at the heart of New York’s Nepali-speaking community. The center has become a home away from home, in addition to a training facility and meeting space. We provide a safe environment for Nepali-speaking women, men, and children to convene, creatively solve problems, and share victory stories. This has become especially critical for women and youth who are too often left out of the conversation in mainstream Nepali groups. In December 2009, Adhikaar moved to its current location, a wheelchair-accessible space that is conveniently located near subways and buses, where our members live, shop, worship and socialize. In 2014, we expanded to the entire building, creating a separate space for offices and allowing us to hold larger community events.

Adhikaar is the community’s 411/311 information and referral service. We are the first stop for other community organizations, government agencies, researchers, and media personnel looking for information about the Nepali-speaking community. Adhikaar is also a gateway between the Nepali-speaking community and other social justice movements, elected officials and mainstream institutions.

Our story remains exciting. In these ten years, we have conducted groundbreaking research, organized for better working conditions, improved access to immigration services, ensured that our community’s issues have made it to the front pages of national and local newspapers, and our team has received numerous honors and awards.