Children’s Hope India gala raises over $1 million for health, education programs

Sandeep Mathrani, second from left, CEO of Brookfield Properties Retail Group and vice chairman of Brookfield Properties, receives the Lotus Award at Children’s Hope India’s annual gala at Pier Sixty in Manhattan, Oct. 13. From left, Sunil Sani, Mathrani, CHI President Dr. Dina Pahlajani and Reena Ninan. 

Children’s Hope India hosted its annual fundraising gala at Pier Sixty in New York, Oct. 13. More than 500 people from the tri-state area attended the sold-out event.

The theme of the evening was ‘Children on the Move’ and it celebrated the upward progress of children through education and enhanced opportunities through CHI programs. A video was also shown about how these children are always on the move, as children of migrants, slum-dwellers, wage-workers and refugees.

The gala raised over $1 million for CHI’s health and education programs, helping the children to move onward and upwards in life.

The master of ceremonies Reena Ninan, CBS anchorperson introduced the highlights of the evening at the waterfront venue.

CHI president Dr. Dina Pahlajani pointed out the strides the 27-year-old organization had made, with a new India office and a new chapter in New Jersey, besides nurturing CH2 and CH3, groups of young people dedicated to supporting the cause of education. She also pointed out that CHI continues to be volunteer-driven with low overheads, with 90 percent of the funds raised going to helping children.

The evening marked the presentation of the Lotus Award to Sandeep Mathrani, CEO of Brookfield Properties Retail Group and vice chairman of Brookfield Properties. Ramakrishna M. Raju, founder of Vision-Aid, a 15-year-old non-profit based in Boston which has done great work to empower the visually impaired, received the Making a Difference Award.

The spirit of Diwali and of hope was highlighted with an entire wall of sparkling diyas, small lamps which light up villages in India. The theme was further enhanced by a performance by Amit Shah’s Aatma Performing Arts in which the dancers fully captured the earthy vibrancy of rural communities on the move.

The cocktail hour was set up as a delightful carnival of ethnic street foods by Chef Gaurav Anand and guests enjoyed the gol guppas, bhel puri as well as eats from different parts of India. This was further enhanced by Nihal Singh’s live tabla beats which embrace East and West in its rhythms.

Guests then sat down to a plated dinner of modern Indian cuisine. This was followed by a dessert wonderland that included 50 varieties of petit fours, and live stations of halwa, gulab jamun and malpua pancakes with rabri. 

The live auction by Lucas Hunt included a 4-day stay in the Bulgari personal family residence and a visit to the vineyards received several bids as did a private gourmet dining experience for 30 people created by Chef Anand with a live tabla concert by Nihal Singh.

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