Orlando woman whose husband was killed in hate crime featured in campaign urging inclusion

ORLANDO, Fla. — Just one moment can change the trajectory of your life and its purpose.


For Sunayana Dumala, that moment was when she decided to turn the pain of losing her husband into an organization that seeks to foster inclusion and diversity in diverse communities. Her husband was killed in a racially motivated hate crime in Kansas City.

Dumala later founded Forever Welcome in 2019, an organization established on awareness, advocacy and supporting immigrant families.

She said that although she was affected by grief, the outpouring of love and solidarity she experienced gave her strength.

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“It really started on a painful note,” Dumala said. “But I’m glad where I am today and how I was able to turn that pain into something more meaningful.” Last year, she reached out to Manjusha Kulkarni -- the co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate -- through LinkedIn.

It was an instant connection as they realized they were both trying to change narratives for the better.

Stop AAPI Hate -- an organization dedicated to ending racial hate against Asian Americans -- launched a storytelling campaign for Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month called #SpreadAAPILove.

The team then approached Dumala with the idea and asked if she wanted to be part of the campaign.

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She said the purpose of the campaign aligned with the mission of Forever Welcome, which aims to help communities be more vocal in adversity.

“It’s about love; it’s about compassion; it’s about kindness,” Dumala said. “It’s about understanding and empathy towards one another and to show that we are real human people.”

Stop AAPI Hate flew her to Los Angeles for the shoot, and Dumala said she was grateful for the experience and the chance to use her platform.

She moved to Orlando almost two years ago to spread her message across Central Florida.

“In this process, I’m fortunate for many people who have reached out to me,” Dumala said. “Hearing my story and trying to collaborate with me in their message of spreading kindness and unity and that empathy and understanding towards immigrants.”

Photos: Forever Welcome founder spreads message of inclusion

Forever Welcome helps to get more people involved in different cultures and recognize different perspectives through workshops and discussions.

The organization’s staff have spoken to students, corporations and other communities.

Their latest workshop aims to help facilitate welcoming environments through dialogue.

Dumala said that every person’s story is different, so it is important not to generalize and to find allies who can champion their message.

She said the workshop aims to “create those ripple effects of where people continue to talk and share.”

“Where this becomes more of a common subject -- where people are more aware of who they are, who their neighbors are,” Dumala said. “(So) they’re more aware of what brings us or what unites us than what divides us.”

She said she hopes more organizations will be inspired to collaborate with hers.

“When I now look around my community of people around me, I’m so proud of the relationships that I’ve built over the years, across various communities,” she said. “That is really important for me – to understand others and their perspectives so then I can add my value to it.”

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