Moms Fight Domestic Violence
Two single mothers, worried that COVID-19 quarantine orders would cause a spike in domestic violence, decided to do something to help victims who were
stuck at home with their abusers. Megs Shah of Hillsborough and Fairuz Ahmed of Bronx, NY, met through an online support group for single mothers. Shah has a son and Ahmed, three daughters. When the two women started speaking, they quickly realized their shared desire to assist survivors of domestic violence. They decided to combine their knowledge and experience— of both technology and abuse—to provide survivors with safe and secure ways to seek support from organizations. They created the Parasol Cooperative, a non-profit organization focused on providing domestic violence organizations with innovative technology to effectively—and safely—offer support to their clients: survivors of abuse. Parasol’s mission is to accelerate the work of their membership organizations in order to expand their outreach to support greater numbers of survivors.
“My interest in science has been pretty prevalent since I was young,” Shah said. She studied electrical and computer engineering at the University of Louisiana. After graduating, she worked in technology for almost 20 years. Ahmed, on the other hand, has an entrepreneurial and journalism background. She owned a bridal wear company for roughly 10 years, selling to Asian markets overseas. She is a Bengali immigrant and a survivor of mental and emotional abuse. The Parasol Cooperative come to fruition during the spike in domestic violence influenced by COVID-19. “Last year when the stay-at-home order was imposed, I think the first thought in my mind was panic,” Shah said. Ahmed asked: “When an abuser is in the house, how do you pick up the phone and call for help?”
Even before COVID-19, Shah and Ahmed both said there was an overwhelming number of resources for survivors—so many that it inhibited those seeking help. The Parasol Cooperative team is comprised of a group of technologists—like Shah, and survivors—like Ahmed. Parasol recently received a grant from Shah's prior employer, Bristol Meyers Squibb (BMS). Thanks to the grant, Parasol plans to launch their application in the third quarter of this year.
By Palmer White l April 12, 2021, The Montgomery News.