Close to 1,300 people attended the 35th annual fundraiser and gala of the non-profit organization Share & Care Foundation, Sept. 30, at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, N.J.
They enjoyed a riveting Bharatnatyam-cum-contemporary dance performance by renowned choreographer and dancer Mallika Sarabhai and her company Darpana, and generously opened their wallets to help implement projects in India relating to education and immunization of children, women’s empowerment, and spreading awareness about cleanliness. The theme of this year’s gala was “Nurturing Potential, Harvesting Dreams.”
“People donated a lot. We raised $1.3 million,” Dr. Manoj Desai, chairman of the annual gala and fundraising and member of the board of trustees of Share and Care, told Desi Talk. Those individuals or couples who donated more than $15,000 were introduced on stage during the event, including Dr. Sudhir Parikh, publisher of Desi Talk and recipient of India’s Padma Shri award, and his wife Dr. Sudha Parikh, H.R. Shah, founder and CEO of TV Asia, Amit and Kalpana Doshi, and Kamlesh (no last name given). An anonymous donor gave $80,000, Desai said. Seventy five couples donated $1,000 each. A painting donated by Shreya Mehta, was unveiled.
Sharad Shah, president of Share and Care, in his speech, emphasized the team work required to undertake work of disaster relief not just in North Gujarat, but also in Texas and Florida, noting how patrons, volunteers of and partner- NGOs of Share and Care are working in the field, he told Desi Talk.
The national anthems of India and the U.S. were sung by Sweta Sukhadia.
In Prudential Hall at NJPAC, Sarabhai, who was introduced by Payal Doshi, brought two full-length works. The first, Love Songs to Shiva, was an emotional and joyous piece for eight dancers, performed in Tamil; and Finding My Voice, which blended the classical and contemporary dance forms and dealt with issues ranging from global warming to growing intolerance in the world, performed in Tamil, Urdu, Hindustani and English. Sarabhai’s son, Revanta, also performed in the troupe.
“What the audience liked the most was that she provided subtitles in English that translated what was being said in the performances,” Desai said. “It helped everyone understand the story.”
Those gathered for the event were given a rundown about where the dollars they gave to Share and Care were used in India through a video as well as an account given by Dr. Sharad Shah, chairman of Share and Care.
Since it was founded in 1982, the Share & Care Foundation has raised $71 million to bring education, gender equality, healthcare, and sanitation and hygiene to deserving women and children of rural India, according to the Facebook site of the non-profit which runs almost entirely on volunteer efforts.
Share and Care works with on-the-ground non-governmental organizations in India which it says are “highly vetted” and include people with close grassroots connections implementing the objectives of the projects. It has been involved in more than 800 programs around India. Some of the sustainable and continuing programs include loan-scholarships to talented students to complete college in areas of science, technology, engineering and math; supporting middle-school dropouts to help them complete their educations; helping vulnerable women with education and self-defense skills, and to gain financial independence; helping improve access to quality healthcare, and provide preventative health education including sanitation through building indoor toilets, and raising awareness about hygiene.
This July, the Paramus, N.J.-based foundation was given a good rating by Charity Navigator, a premier U.S. organization that evaluates the performance of non-profits. It gave Share and Care an overall score and rating of 87.55 out of 100, and an accountability and transparency rating of 100 out of hundred. It also showed that 81 percent of the charity’s total expenses were spent on the programs and services it delivers.