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Uplifting Women

Councilwoman Germain honors Channavy Chhay

Posted 3/8/22

By EMMA BARTLETT

At 12 years old, Channavy Chhay came to America with her mom and aunt during the Vietnam War. They had nothing – coming into the country barefoot and wearing flip flops. …

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NEWS

Uplifting Women

Councilwoman Germain honors Channavy Chhay

Posted

By EMMA BARTLETT

At 12 years old, Channavy Chhay came to America with her mom and aunt during the Vietnam War. They had nothing – coming into the country barefoot and wearing flip flops. Chhay remembers receiving a jacket in San Francisco. On March 4, 2022, Hope and Change for Haiti honored Chhay during their International Women’s Day celebration at the Rhode Island Statehouse for her devotion to community service in Rhode Island.

Hope and Change for Haiti, an organization founded by Councilwoman Aniece Germain, advocates for women and immigrant rights and promotes cultural awareness. In Haiti, the group invests in community development with a focus on water, housing and education in the country’s rural regions.

Chhay is Executive Director of the Center for Southeast Asians in Providence – a 30-year-old nonprofit promoting the prosperity, heritage and leadership of Southeast Asians in Rhode Island. The organization serves over 5,367 families throughout the state, focusing on low-income refugees and immigrant groups. Chhay was honored for her passion and commitment to serving all people through her center.

“Chhay is a true public servant and an invaluable resource,” said Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea.

Gorbea spoke to Hope and Change for Haiti’s theme for this year titled “together we can break the bias.” She said we need to see women succeed and thrive in previously male dominated spaces; these actions will empower younger generations of women and create pathways so they can see themselves in these positions.

“Real change can only happen when we embrace diversity,” Gorbea said.

Germain, who is currently the organization’s assistant executive director emceed the event.

“It is crucial that we recommit to take bold action to ensure authentic relationships among communities in building inclusive communities. We need to set new goals to combat bias, stereotypes and racism that undermine the social mobility of people of color, particularly Black people,” said Germain.

People of color, especially Black women, continue to suffer from bias and microaggressions. Speakers emphasized the need to acknowledge bias and racism against people of color Asian people, its impact on Black women and draw insights to tackle these issues to ease the path to a more inclusive community. They also addressed the barriers and obstacles that women continue to experience.

“I will never accept that my daughters receive a lower pay with the same qualifications as men just because she’s a girl,” said Merites Abelard, Chairperson of Women’s Program at Hope and

Change for Haiti.

Governor Daniel McKee presented Chhay with a certificate for her dedication to the Rhode Island community.

“It’s great to be in the presence of great women who continue to break barriers,” said McKee.

International Women’s Day is celebrated annually on March 8 and recognizes the role women play in enacting societal change and addressing the issues that women face in society.

Germain also called for speaking up when people see injustices; thus, creating that opportunity to break bias.

The celebration included vocalists Carine Paul and Becky Bass. Paul shared a story from her childhood about her mom telling her: “Don’t ever accept the limits and labels society puts on you.”

With words of taking adversity and turning it into hope, Hope and Change for Haiti, along Planned Parenthood Votes! Rhode Island, Women’s Fund of Rhode Island, Dialogue on Diversity, and Inclusion of Rhode Island College, all recognized Chhay’s work and with steps to move forward in breaking biases together.

women, Chhay

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