Five years ago, a Bangladeshi woman knocked at Somy Ali’s door, hurt and bleeding, seeking help. She had been raped by her father-in-law and was abused by her husband for over 10 years. At that instant, Ali — a 2002 NSU alumna, who had intentions of starting a nonprofit organization, but was still contemplating her mission — knew exactly what that mission would be.
Ali helped the woman. She called the police, filed a police report, paid for her apartment, paid for her to go to nursing school and paid for an attorney to get her a divorce. She was able to do all this with her personal savings.
After helping that victim, No More Tears was officially registered as a nonprofit organization in Florida in 2008, with the mission of helping immigrant women who are victims of domestic violence. Since its inception, the organization has helped 231 victims of domestic violence and 518 children who have been sexually and physically abused. Although 99 percent of these victims are from South Florida, they have also helped some in Virginia, New York, Washington D.C., and other states.
The first victim the organization helped after its official registration was a woman from Jordan, who was living in the U.S. with her abusive husband. No More Tears helped her get her life on track, and in 2010, she graduated from NSU with a Ph.D. in Pharmacy. This is just one of the success stories of the organization.
Ali said that the organization is very unique because victims are not put on a waiting list. This is because they pay all the people that provide services to the victims — the doctors, dentists, optometrists, driving schools and more.
No More Tears has brochures printed in many languages, including English, Hindi, Creole, Spanish and Arabic. They are placed in courthouses, grocery stores, houses of worship and other locations where victims can easily find them and call for help. Their phone number — 211 — is publicly listed as a domestic violence hotline. The organization has also been working in close partnership with the police departments of Plantation, Davie, Cooper City, Pembroke Pines and Fort Lauderdale, along with the Broward Sherriff’s Office, which refer victims to No More Tears.
The organization also partners with some hotels, which provide accommodations for the victims. When No More Tears receives a call, they immediately take the victim to a hotel, fill out an intake form and book a room for five days, then find a one-bedroom apartment for the victim. The organization pays their first and second month’s rent. They also get the victims into therapy, sign them up for driving school, help them land a job and, in many instances, enroll them in English classes and register their children for school.
Ali said, “It’s a one-stop-shop. Every single service that you can think of — from transportation, to legal, to medical, to education — we provide all of it.”
Ali said that there are many ways in which NSU students can help No More Tears. Students can help the victims study for General Education Development tests, teach English to those victims who speak other languages, help them write a check, advise them on creating resumes, or even babysit their children while they are busy job searching. “Above and beyond, I would request everyone to raise awareness about No More Tears,” Ali said.
She credits her accomplishments, and the program’s success, to her professors at NSU. She was brought up in Pakistan, in a home that she calls “close-minded”; certain things were not questioned.
“I was able to satiate my insatiable desires, to question things at NSU. And who better to ask questions than the professors that obviously know it all? I thoroughly enjoyed my time there, because, from asking every professor that I could so many different questions, I was able to get answers. Spending time with these professors was the best time of my life.” Ali said.
Ali said that the work she does is gratifying. “You wake up knowing that you have saved a life. You go to sleep knowing that you have saved a life, and you know everyday of your life that you are actively saving the lives of women and children that are abused,” she said. “It is, perhaps, the most gratifying thing that I could have done with my life. I am not a hero, by any means. The heroes are these women, these children. And, they are unbelievably resilient. These are real heroes.”
She also said that she has learned a lot from the victims she has helped and that they have humbled her. She has learned to be more appreciative of life, to know what is really important, and to be grateful for what she has.
No More Tears has gotten amazing media support not just locally, but also nationally and even internationally. They were featured in the New York Times two months ago. Ali said that the community has been very generous in donating items, but they need more funding. “If people can sign up for $10 a month, it will be a huge help.”
For more information on No More Tears, including volunteer opportunities, visit www.nmtproject.org.