The New England chapter of the American India Foundation on Saturday raised a whopping $1.03 million for its flagship Maternal and Newborn Survival Initiative, a public-private partnership known as MANSI that reduces maternal and child mortality predominantly in remote rural and tribal areas of India.
AIF’s 13th Annual Bow Ties & Bangles New England Gala was held on Saturday, March 23, at Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel in Boston’s Seaport district. The event was attended by 443 people and more than a third of the supporters were non-Indian.
“The most important gauge of whether the event went well in our opinion is whether it raised the targeted funds for MANSI. It does seem like we did and that makes us proud to have been a small part of it,” Gala Co-Chairs Preetha and Mammen Chally told INDIA New England News. “The second gauge of success is whether we sufficiently inspired the guests to come again next year and support AIF so we can make this sustainable far into the future.”
Challys said that real answer will be known next year but it does seem like the immediate feedback organizers have received suggests the outlook is very encouraging. “We thank all the volunteers, guests, donors and a number of folks who could not make it but were generous nonetheless for their kindness and more importantly for spreading the word,” Challys said.
Challys got involved with AIF a few years ago when they we were introduced to the non-profit organization by Dr. Sunita Pereira and her husband Brian Pereira, who was year’s honoree at the gala. AIF Gala Co-Chairs Raj and Nalini Sharma said they were gratified to see the tremendous outpouring of support for AIF and its multi- pronged mission of development in India.
“Our flagship program MANSI has demonstrated great success in reducing maternal and infant mortality in some of most marginalized areas of India. Over the next five years, we plan to scale MANSI five-fold so we can impact a population of 10 million people,” Sharma’s said. “Despite our ambitions, AIF alone cannot solve this urgent need. Our goal is to create a collective movement in partnership with the government, international aid agencies, corporations, other NGO’s and philanthropists.” Sharma’s said that gala audience was the most diverse of any of AIF galas.
“More than a third of the supporters were non-Indian and we also attracted several rising professionals and young people who were first time attendees at the gala,” Sharmas said. “We would love to engage them in our events through out the year in the New England area.
Venkat Srinivasan, Vice Chair of AIF, said it is gratifying to see the AIF spirit diffuse into the broader New England community. “MANSI is an exemplary example of the power of public private partnerships done right,” said Mr. Srinivasan, who thanked the gala attendees, sponsors and volunteers. “Beyond that, it is also gratifying to see the AIF spirit diffuse into the broader New England community.”
Savitri Devi, a resident of the village Chamrota in Uttarakhand provice of India, spoke about her experience and how AIF helped her and her village. Emmy award winning television news reporter and anchor Sorboni Banerjee served as emcee. The gala featured a magnificent line up of entertainment, including the musical group Natraj and the Berklee Indian Ensemble, the dance ensemble Shahi Taj Bhangra and DJ Neel. Food was provided by Needham, MA-based Masala Art.
The American India Foundation is committed to catalyzing social and economic change in India, and building a lasting bridge between the United States and India through high-impact interventions in education, livelihoods, public health, and leadership development. Working closely with local communities, AIF partners with NGOs to develop and test innovative solutions and with governments to create and scale sustainable impact. AIF’s programming seeks to achieve gender equity through developing inclusive models that focus on and empower girls and women. Founded in 2001 at the initiative of President Bill Clinton following a suggestion from Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee, AIF has impacted the lives of 4.6 million of India’s poor. AIF is transforming lives across 24 states of India while addressing these issues on a regional, country, and international scale. Learn more at www.AIF.org