NEWTON, MA—At its sold-out and packed annual fundraising gala on Sunday, Akshaya Patra drew a who’s who of the Indian-American community and raised a whopping $1.52 million.
“I am touched by the compassion and generosity of Bostonians. The energy, warmth and positive feelings in the room were overwhelming,” Desh Deshpande, Chairman of the Board of Directors for Akshaya Patra USA, told INDIA New England News. “They came together and raised $1.52 million to support the mission of Akshaya Patra; to make sure that no child is denied of education because of hunger.”
Akshaya Patra is the world’s largest NGO-run school meal program, providing school meals to 1.5 million children in 11,501 schools across India.
“Last night was a very inspiring evening and I am sure it will not only financially support the organization, but raise the bar for what it does,” Deshpande said. “The organization will continue to innovate in use of technology, work even more closely with the government and develop a more sustainable financial model. Thank you, Boston.”
The evening featured Dr. Atul Gawande, New York Times best-selling author and surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Dr. Gawande has written four New York Times bestsellers: ‘Complications’, ‘Better’, ‘The Checklist Manifesto’ and ‘Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End’. Comedian and actor Omi Vaidya of the Bollywood blockbuster ‘Three Idiots’ fame, served as the event’s Master of Ceremonies.
Emily Rosenbaum, CEO of Akshaya Patra USA, said the May 1 event was supported by 44 sponsoring families and organizations.
“The May 1 Gala was a magical evening with 500 guests and 44 sponsoring families and/ or organizations, inspired words from surgeon, educator, and philanthropist Dr. Atul Gawande, and lightness and humor from actor Omi Vaiya,” Rosenbaum said. “I am so proud of what we were able to accomplish last night with our incredibly committed team of over 30 volunteer leaders under the direction of Rakesh Kamdar, Boston Chapter Chair, and Ankita Narula, Director of Development Northeast.”
She added: “But moreover, I am also proud to say that as we continue to raise the bar of how we can support more and more children with unlimited food for education, more importantly the bar is being raised in India for what children can expect to receive – healthy, nutritious food and a childhood free from labor and full of learning. Thank you, Boston, for helping us reach these greater heights.”