Children’s Hope India celebrates 25 years of changing children’s lives

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Chandrika Tandon receives the Lotus Award, flanked by Maya Rajani, Children's Hope India president, Tinku Jain, master of ceremonies, and Lavina Melwani, Children's Hope India co-founder. (Photo courtesy Children's Hope India)

It was a silver jubilee fit for royalty as nearly 500 guests from the tri-state area celebrated 25 years of Children’s Hope India, and the organization’s mission to transform the lives of underprivileged children, at Pier Sixty in Chelsea Piers on Oct. 28.

There was food; there was dancing; there was the honoring of several individuals for their commitment to public service and making a difference in the lives of the less privileged. But most of all, there was generosity in heart and in spirit as close to $1 million was raised to support Children’s Hope India’s new cornerstone project in Bhopal, India—the Children’s Hope Girls Academy—as well as other projects providing education and medical care both in India and the New York Metropolitan Area.

The entrance to the 25th anniversary gala of Children’s Hope India shows the children the organization supports, with the belief “Every child counts.”
(Photo courtesy of Children’s Hope India)

Close to 500 people attended this gala event which was full of leading names from the business and arts worlds. India’s Consul General in New York Ambassador Sandeep Chakravorty and Mrs. Chakravorty were the chief guests, and the noted film director Mira Nair was there in person to introduce her Broadway bound show “Monsoon Wedding.” The Master of Ceremonies of this 25th Anniversary Gala was Tinku Jain, noted broadcaster and philanthropist.

A highlight of the evening was the felicitating of Lotus Award Honoree Chandrika Tandon, who is a leader in the worlds of business, education, and the arts, dedicated to public service. She is vice chairman of the Board of Trustees of New York University, Chair of NYU’s President’s Global Council, Chair of the Board of the NYU Tandon School of Engineering and serves on the Boards of the NYU School of Business and Medicine.

Bob Roth is presented the Making A Difference Award by Maya Rajani and Poonam and AJ Khubani of Telebrands, sponsor of the award. (Photo courtesy of Children’s Hope India)

She is also the Grammy-nominated composer and singer of several albums and whose new album “Shivoham: the Quest” – is dedicated to seekers of the light and the teachers who show them the path.

Tandon spoke powerfully about her struggles to define true success, and how the prism through which she viewed the world has changed.

“My concept of perfection changed – now I believe I am perfect, we are all perfect. I believe there’s an incredible universe taking care of us and I believe we all have to take care of each other for we will not be complete unless we can do that,” Tandon said. “We have to do that for ourselves and for each other.”

Her remarks about giving and finding one’s own radiance got a standing ovation from the audience.

On its 25th anniversary, Children’s Hope India honored the Sani Family for their long commitment to the organization. Sunil and Sharmila Sani who received the award on behalf of the family are flanked by Maya Rajani and Dr. Dina Pahlajani, co-founder and co-president of Children’s Hope. (Photo courtesy of Children’s Hope India)

Making a Difference honoree Bob Roth is the Chief Executive Officer of the David Lynch Foundation which has brought meditation to over 500,000 inner-city youth in underserved schools in 35 countries, to veterans and their families who suffer from post-traumatic stress, and to women and children who are survivors of domestic violence. He is also the author of Transcendental Meditation, which has been translated into 20 languages.

Bob Roth spoke to the importance of developing the whole child by offering not only the best educational opportunities and health care but also meditation and yoga, drawing parallels between CHI’s mission and that of the organization he heads, the David Lynch Foundation and his own personal mission as a teacher of Transcendental Meditation for 45 years.

“Without meditation and yoga we will never truly heal the trauma that afflicts so many children who grow up in the slums of India or the crime ridden streets of some neighborhoods in New York City. But with these ancient, evidence-based practices we can give each child a true foundation for a healthy, productive, happy life,” he noted.

Mira Nair is surrounded by the performers of “Monsoon Wedding” including the Sa Dancers. (Photo courtesy of Children’s Hope India)

Guests were also treated to a sneak peek at award-winning film director Nair’s upcoming Broadway musical “Monsoon Wedding” as the original cast performed five songs, in conjunction with the wonderful Sa Dance Company, founded by Artistic Director Payal Kadakia. Nair in her signature warm and lively manner gave the introduction on five colorful songs from the musical which had a sold out run in Berkeley. It was truly an unforgettable night of music and dance, with a feast for the eyes and ears.

Taste buds were also indulged as celebrity chef Gaurav Anand, the man behind New York’s Moti Mahal, Bhatti Grill, Awadh and Aroqa, showcased a gastronomical feast with many innovative creations which got rave reviews from gala attendees.

Filmmaker Mira Nair with Children’s Hope India advisory board member and Emcee Tinku Jain. (Photo courtesy of Children’s Hope India)

A highlight of the evening was the live auction, conducted by Sandhya Jain-Patel of Christie’s, of life-changing ventures where guests bid on educational projects for the newly created Children’s Hope Girls Academy in Bhopal, which will educate 800 girls in Gandhi Nagar and surrounding villages, beginning in March. Over the course of this evening alone, funding was raised for two school buses to transport the girls from their villages to the school, a digital learning center equipped for distance learning, a playground, and classrooms, as well as nutrition and medical care for the students.

Also raising money for the CHI Girls Academy was the live and silent auction of donated must-have items including fabulous diamond jewelry by Madison Avenue jeweler Nirav Modi; a painting by famous artist Jamini Roy; a Tuscan experience at a Bulgari villa; and air tickets to India on the national carrier Air India.

The music for the evening was provided by DJ Sharad of DJ USA. Jharna Jaisinghani of Artistic Affairs coordinated the event.

Guests enjoying the many delicacies created by Chef Gaurav Anand in a gastronomical wonderland. (Photo courtesy of Children’s Hope India)

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