Founding of SAFSS Agency

In 1982, while working full-time at York University, I was asked to assist with an outreach project aimed at isolated South Asian Women who were the victims of domestic violence. Two years later, in 1984, this effort resulted in the founding of a non-profit agency, Toronto Asian Community Centre. Located in North York, it serviced the community in the Jane and Finch corridor. This was the first social service agency serving new immigrants from the South Asian Community.

In 1985, I moved to Scarborough to pursue a different career path, however, I continued to receive phone calls from women I had met in North York asking me to help their friends or relatives, women living in Scarborough who were also victims of domestic violence. I forwarded these requests to Scarborough Women’s Centre and Human Services of Scarborough. However, during the early 1980s, the mainstream agencies were not culturally or linguistically prepared to assist new immigrants.

While working with these two agencies, in 1989 we were give a small office space by Centenary Hospital, our local health care providers. At this time Centenary hospital was also not prepared to deal with the culturally diverse population and needed interpreters from the South Asian community. In return for office space, I became the interpreter.

Cynthia Brown, Executive Director of Human Services of Scarborough and Lynda Kosowan, Executive Director of Scarborough Women’s Centre brought together representatives of other agencies and formed a management committee. For nearly two years we functioned as volunteers, an extension of Human Services of Scarborough and, finally, incorporated as a non-profit agency in 1990 named South Asian Family Support Services.

The primary goal of this agency was to help South Asian immigrant women who are victims of domestic violence.


Aruna Papp
Founder of SAFSS