|Saheli’s Fundraising Gala Nirbhaya Raises $80,000
Saheli’s Fundraising Gala Nirbhaya was held on Friday, September 18, 2015 at the Waltham Westin Hotel in Waltham, MA. An elegant and sophisticated event, the gala generated a gross revenue of $80,000. Nirbhaya was led by two skilled and dynamic women– chair Anu Chitrapu and co-chair Dr. Manju Sheth. They stated that net revenues will be determined after expenses for the event have been paid. A team of volunteer worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make the fundraiser a success. Included in the team were Saheli members Usha Vakil, Mariya Taher, Neelam Wali, Lata Rao, Sweta Mepani, Rita Shah and Gouri Banerjee. Saheli interns Shaleen Sheth and Uma Venkatraman worked hard behind the scenes as well. Also in the team were many dedicated community leaders including Mr. Upendra Mishra, publisher of India New England News, Sumana Bhat, Kavitha Sivasailam, Sapna Aggarwal, Twinkle Morbia, Bindu Chamarthi, Eshani Shah, Viveka Devdas, Charu Agarwal and Shikha Bajpai.
The event commenced with a speech by guest of honor Mass State Treasurer Deb Goldberg who came to the event with four associates. The Treasurer supported Saheli’s work for the Economic Empowerment of Women and conveyed her desire to attend the fundraiser next year and spend more time with the Saheli team. After her speech guests convened in the ballroom to hear about Saheli’s 19 years of service to the South Asian community, watched a Saheli presentation and listened to speeches expressing appreciation for outgoing president Usha Vakil and welcoming incoming president Dr. Gouri Banerjee. The cultural highlight of the evening was a delightful rendition of nostalgic songs by the all women music ensemble “Women of the World”. This was the first time that this talented multicultural group of women from Berklee College of Music performed at a South Asian event. The audience also enjoyed a powerful poem written and rendered by Sunayna Kacheroo Massachusetts’s talented Kashmiri poet. Listening to Urdu poetry about women and domestic violence raised the issue of violence against women to a very emotional level.
Mrs. Shobha Shastry donated her talents and decorated the ballroom in beautiful shades of purple and magenta and included Ganesha images in the foyer to mark Ganesh Chaturthi Week. Masala Art of Needham provided scrumptious snacks and dinner. Mr. Rasik Mehta photographed the entire event and Deejay Yogz provided the musical accompaniment for the event and ended the evening with a thrumming rendition of Punjabi songs for the pleasure of guests who took to the floor to relax and dance.
And so, Saheli begins its twentieth year in Boston as an organization dedicated to empowering South Asian women and families to lead safe and healthy lives. Saheli will use the funds raised at Nirbhaya to support programs that help women and children achieve a path to independence. These goals include:
1. Empower low income women from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka with small grants to become self-sufficient.
2. Support a new office for Saheli where staff will meet clients.
3. Deliver crucial domestic violence prevention services to South Asians.
Thank you to the Nirbhaya team, the governing board, the advisory committee, and all our committed volunteers for your hard work! We look forward to another year providing free survivor services and support to South Asian women.