LONG ISLAND, NY
Children’s Hope India (CHI) held its very annual women’s luncheon on May 10, at the Carltun at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, New York. More than 250 women came to celebrate the accomplishments of women and their contributions to improving their communities.
According to organizers, the luncheon garnered more than $45,000, which will go toward Children’s Hope India’s Sight for the Sightless Program (Dekhna Hai Muje, or “I want To See”) in Pune, India. For this project, CHI collaborates with KK Eye Institute in Pune, to screen thousands of children every year in rural and urban slums for eye problems ranging from cataracts to refractive errors and other rare eye disorders such as ocular tumors and congenital diseases. According to CRY, 41 percent of children in India experience vision problems before they complete school, negatively affecting their ability to learn.
A highlight of the spring luncheon is the Woman of Distinction Award, given to a woman who has managed to balance the challenges of the workplace, home and social responsibility. This year CHI honored Tania Ahuja, banker, advocate for education and patron of the arts.
Ahuja spoke about the challenges she has personally taken on in her life, her resilience, and the teachings (mostly outside the classroom) passed onto her by her father and her mother—the example they set for her in going beyond merely being the best you can be for yourself and your family to helping others. “If you’re lucky enough to do well, it’s your responsibility to send the elevator back down. Always remember how lucky you are and pay it forward,” Ahuja said in her speech.
The guest speaker for this year’s luncheon was Monica Singh, an international voice for survivors of acid attacks. Singh, who is known for surviving and overcoming an acid attack and reaching New York by herself to study at her dream school (Parsons), is a motivational speaker, humanitarian and well known social activist for violence against women. In addition to being a spokesperson for the United Nations, she is the founder and president of the Mahendra Singh Foundation, which aims to help women overcome obstacles and reach their full potential. Singh spoke not only about her own resilience and her journey back to health and wholeness after her attack, but also about her mission to give the dreams back to the thousands of girls out there who have suffered from various forms of violence, many of whom may not have the support she had from her parents. “Life is too precious to cry over,” she is quoted saying in the press release. “If you keep crying, you are insulting life. And if you have survived one time, there must be something amazing in your life which is gonna come. All you have to have is hope.”
Among others who attended the luncheon were Indian Consul General of New York Riva Ganguly Das, as well as many of CHI’s past honorees. The spring luncheon was organized by the CHI benefit committee members Babita Advani, Milan Devjani, Aarti Kamat, Maneesha Sani and Madhulika Shroff. Jharna Jaisinghani of Artistic Affairs coordinated the event, and DJ Sharad provided the music.