by Diandra Malahoo, an AI volunteer that works with an education-related not-for-profit based in NYC.
We did it again! Asia Initiatives shined the spotlight on the transformative work it has done over the past decade and a half at its 15th Annual Gala in an elegant suite at the New York Athletic Club. Every year the Gala gets bigger and better, and this year’s event was the best yet as reflected in the number of dedicated friends who graciously joined us on October 12 and contributed so generously to our fund-raising efforts.
Along with the expected—fine dining, a traditional dance performance (Sophia Salingaros’s graceful Bharatnatyam dance deserves special mention), panel discussion, update on projects, and auction—the evening delivered some completely delightful and unexpected surprises.
A radiant Eva Haller welcomed guests with a poetic reflection on Asia Initiatives’ work over the past 15 years and introduced Asia Initiatives’ founder and president, Geeta Mehta. Dr. Mehta described AI’s cornerstone SoCCs program and its alignment with over half of the UN Global Goals. Since the SoCCs program focuses on issues of equity and sustainability, it came as no surprise that equity was a common theme in the panel discussion led by Susan Blaustein, Executive Director of WomenStrong International, which featured Kerry Kennedy and Nirmal Matoo, this year’s recipients of the M. S. Swaminathan Human Rights Award and M.S.Swaminathan Changemaker Award. Both Dr. Mattoo and Ms. Kennedy spoke about social good as an obligation, not a choice, and how they have been able to leverage their own professional success and networks to help communities that need support.
Kerry Kennedy, one of the evening’s honorees, brought the audience to its feet with a rain dance: not a dance in the traditional sense but rather a harmonizing rhythm of the sounds heard in the rainforest. By tapping tables, snapping fingers, and clapping hands, the group created an echo in the cavernous room that sounded like rain falling on leaves, transporting us deep into the forest. A Bollywood dance performed by AI volunteers Ankita Chachra and Devanshi Purohit then electrified the room and thrilled the audience, bringing the evening to a rousing close. The guests had work to do as well; following a SoCCS tutorial, each table had to come up with a SoCCs earning and redeeming menu for the various SoCCs projects AI manages all over the world. The energy of the evening was unmatched, and guests left the room as newly minted masters of SoCCs, informed, inspired, entertained, and, we hope, well fed.
This gala marks a special milestone in the Asia Initiatives story. Asia Initiatives owes its thanks to everyone who participated in the gala, donating his or her time and resources to help bring this event to life. The funds raised from the gala will go directly to our programs and will help to expand SoCCs domestically and internationally. We strive continue to make the world a more equitable place while enjoying the journey and watching the seeds we plant through SoCCs grow.
Sincere thanks to all who believe in helping a woman a rise.
To see more photos from the event take a look here.