2016 Holiday Party and Fundraiser
On Saturday, Dec. 10th, over 100 Damayan members, board, staff and allies gathered at the 1199 Building on 43rd street, to celebrate Damayan’s victories and community and to raise funds to keep the work of Damayan going. The theme of the party was, “Amidst the fear and hate, let’s continue to fight, unite, and celebrate!” and participants did just that. The party also included a fundraiser, which featured Damayan’s new sustainer program, a program in which members, board, staff, and supporters agree to donate to Damayan monthly to sustain the work.
The celebration began with an incredible dinner featuring a variety of Filipino dishes. While guests ate, Damayan Deputy Chairperson Judith Daluz started off the program and welcomed the first performers, Lheny Ramos, her daughter Trina, Sally Agaton, Vicky Berongoy, Vangie Zamonte, and Jan Brual, all trafficking survivors or children of trafficking survivors. The group performed a beautiful rendition of “Sa Araw ng Pasko (On Christmas Day)".
Damayan Board members Rose Alovera and Sally Agaton led the introduction of the Damayan Board and staff. This year, the board and staff added several new members, as Damayan increases its caseload in handling labor trafficking cases. Executive Director Linda Oalican reported on Damayan’s 2016 accomplishments and victories, citing the increasingly critical work of Damayan following the U.S. presidential elections. Linda spoke of the need for unity and organizing in light of the increased racism, sexism, and bigotry ushered in by the incoming Trump administration. Linda stated, “today we celebrate, tomorrow we continue to fight.”
The next speaker, Vilma Olmelio, highlighted the crucial work of Damayan through her story. Vilma and Damayan Community Organizer Riya Ortiz announced the launch of Damayan’s Justice for Vilma campaign by sharing her experience of migrating and having a stolen wage case.
Damayan Board member and ANSWER Coalition organizer Karina Garcia highlighted Linda’s statements and Vilma’s story to emphasize the need for the Damayan community to stand up and fight back. Karina stated that Damayan provides vital services and crucial organizing through its grassroots educating and mobilizing, all which is primarily sustained through donor support.
Damayan Board Chairperson Juana Dwyer and Damayan Board member, trafficking survivor and Community Organizer Lydia Catina closed the program with a call for unity and strength for the coming year. The speakers asked attendees to stand side by side with Damayan and allies in the streets, to fight for Hate Free Zones in our communities and the rights of im/migrants and domestic workers. Lydia and Juana also invited everyone to join Damayan in Washington D.C. on January 20th to protest the inauguration of Trump.
The party continued with a gift exchange, surprise performances, and of course, lots of dancing. The laughs, singing, speeches, and stories all showed the strength of the Damayan community and the importance of continuing to fight for it. Damayan is grateful to all those who came to the party, and the members, workers and supporters who donated. The party reenergized and refueled us to fight harder in 2017! Salamat and happy holidays!
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