With Commitment to Transform One Million Lives, Desai Foundation’s Lotus Festival Focuses on Women’s Health and Sanitary Napkin Program

STOW, MA—In an unique museum setting with historic planes and antique cars, the Desai Foundation held its Lotus Festival and committed to transforming one million lives and focus on women’s health, especially its Sanitary Napkin program in India. Only 12 percent of women in India have access and can afford feminine hygiene products.

The Lotus Festival Gala was held at The Collings Foundation Estate in Stow, MA, on June 25 and was attended by about 250 guests, entrepreneurs, community leaders and philanthropists.

Lotus-12“It meant a lot that tonight was focused on the health of women. We know that women really are the backbone of every society – and ensuring they are healthy is a huge part of the overall health, and economic development for the regions we serve,” said Santhana Krishnan, a member of the Board of Directors at Desai Foundation. “The event was a huge success. We had a really diverse group of attendees and hope that we have been able to showcase the great work of the Desai Foundation to many more people.”

Attendees were overwhelmed by the unique and extraordinary venue. Harshitha Krishnan and Aleif Kamdan, the two musicians from the Berklee School of Music, touched the hearts of guests as they played songs about empowering women.

Lotus-11Miki Agrawal, CEO of THINX and Forbes Top 20 Millenials on a Mission, spoke from her heart about women empowerment, education and taboos regarding women’s mensuration and periods. In fact, she shocked the audience a bit with her honest and raw speech about the current state of feminine hygiene in developing worlds, and here in the US.

Agarwal also announced that THINX will partner with the Desai Foundation to fulfill its mission. THINX was named Time Magazine’s 25 Best New Inventions of 2015.

Lotus-7Yash Shah, a Board Member of the Desai Foundation, said that although the Desai Foundation has been around for many years, it became a public foundation only for about three years.

“I am honored to be a part of the Board of Directors to help shape and steer their programs and initiatives,” Shah said. “I have been most impressed with how far the team at the Desai Foundation is able to stretch a dollar. They are able to get so much value because of the incredible partnerships they have formed on the ground in India.”

Megha Desai, Director of the Desai Foundation, welcomed the guests and served as the master of the ceremony.

“Our goal for the night was to host the most meaningful and unforgettable event celebrating women’s health and livelihood and we are so proud to have succeeded,” Desai said.

Lotus-8She hopes that the Lotus Festival becomes a long-standing tradition in Boston.

“We started as a small family foundation. My father, mother, sister and I had modest ambitions: to simply give back to the communities that we felt has supported and enriched us,” Desai said. “Three years ago, in 2014, the Desai Foundation held its first public event, marking our transition from a small family foundation, to a robust public organization.”

She said the mission of Desai Foundation is to empower women and children through community programming to elevate their health and livelihood.

“Our mission is nuanced, and is not as straight forward as building wells, or distributing shoes. It’s a complex balance of providing opportunity, education and health so that the people we serve can live sustainable, productive and healthy lives both in India, and in the US,” said Desai, adding that theme for this event and the year has been focused on Women’s Health.

“There are so many aspects to keeping women healthy in a community. Much like the Lotus Flower, it is women that keep society above water. It is women that helps families grow. It is women that hold our communities together,” Desai said. “Our health camps have been serving thousands of women in nearly 50 villages (in India). We provide services like eye exams, nutrition check-ups, blood tests, hygiene training, and basic physicals.”

Samir Desai, a tech entrepreneur and founder of the Desai Foundation who grew up in a small village in Gujrat, said that he has always believed that everyone has the ability to give: be it money, time, talent or network.

“This was instilled in me by my grandparents in that little village in Gujarat, and by my mother. And I am sure you have all experienced some aspect of this lesson – from that teacher, friend, or volunteer that supported you or someone you cared for,” he said. “Those of us that can give must give. And we must give now. There is no time like the present to make a meaningful and lasting impact on someone else.”

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