Houstonians Lend their Support for SEWA’s Harvey Relief!

The musical evening organized by Mousumi Banerjee (center in black) was held at India House on Saturday, September 16. Hemang Thakkar led the musical team and the other talented performers included Deep Bhattacharya, Varun Tandon, Nupur Basu, Padma Iyengar and Lakshmi Peter.

The musical evening organized by Mousumi Banerjee (center in black) was held at India House on Saturday, September 16. Hemang Thakkar led the musical team and the other talented performers included Deep Bhattacharya, Varun Tandon, Nupur Basu, Padma Iyengar and Lakshmi Peter. Photos: Murali Santhana

By Vanshika Vipin Varma

HOUSTON: In the aftermath of hurricane Harvey, several organizations and individuals have supported the victims of this disaster. Amidst passionate speeches and moving performances, the Harvey Relief fundraiser event, organized by Mousumi Banerjee and well supported by Hemang Thakkar and Achalesh Amar was held on September 16, at India House. More than 300 people, including several Houston philanthropists attended this musical night, and all proceeds were donated to Sewa USA, Harvey Relief Funds.

Gitesh Desai, Sewa International (Houston chapter) President presented Mousumi Banerjee with a plaque, as a token of appreciation.

Gitesh Desai, Sewa International (Houston chapter) President presented Mousumi Banerjee with a plaque, as a token of appreciation.

 
Sewa International has continued to serve Houstonians in the aftermath of Harvey. Sewa has a dedicated team of over 1250 volunteers who have collaborated together to achieve over 43,000 hours of services that translates to efforts worth $1 million. The enthusiastic team has done clean-ups of over 400 damaged houses and provided direct support to over 800 families. In the last couple of weeks, Sewa has taken a lot of efforts in providing assistance in rebuilding and rehabilitation, and their commitment and dedication is indeed noteworthy. Staying true to its mission of servicing humanity in distress, aiding l cal communities and promoting volunteerism, Sewa has been collaborating with multiple organizations to aid relief. The community has been organizing various events to help Sewa raise funds.

The musical team.

The musical team.

 
The musical fund raiser night was a welcoming thought after the post-traumatic stress of the extremely destructive hurricane. The guests enjoyed the melodious evening, complimented by some delectable Indian food, while supporting the cause of Harvey Relief. Hemang Thakkar led the musical team and the other talented performers included Deep Bhattacharya, Varun Tandon, Nupur Basu, Padma Iyengar and Lakshmi Peter. The Emcee for the event was Riva Thanki, who did a fabulous job in facilitating the objective of the event. The event began with a medley of some old and new Hindi songs like, ‘O Palanhaare’, ‘Ek pyaar ka nagma hai’, ‘Savan jo aag lagaye’, ‘Kahi door jab din dhal jaye’, ‘Zindagi ka safar’, Saathi hate badhana’ and more. While most of these songs evoked a memorable emotional experience, one song in particular brought tears to many. It was the track, Kal Ho Na Ho, which was played along with a slideshow of the photographs of victims being rescued and the damages cause by Harvey. Everyone from the audience could relate to the heartrending stanza, Har pal yahaan, jee bhai jiyo, Jo hai sama, kal ho na ho, which means, Live every moment of your life to the fullest, as you may not see tomorrow. 

The organizing team, Sewa team, and volunteers.

The organizing team, Sewa team, and volunteers.

This emotional segment was followed by a short speech by Gitesh Desai, Sewa International (Houston chapter) President. He mentioned Sewa International aims at raising $1million and about a quarter of the same has been achieved so far. He requested the people to donate generously to Sewa’s noble cause. He presented Mousumi Banerjee with a plaque as a token of appreciation for her hard work in putting this event together and raising funds of Sewa. This was followed by a few individual song performances, Varun Tandon sang Pukarata chala hu mein, Nupur Basu sang Teri deewani, Deep Bhattacharya sang Rim jhim gire saawan, Lakshmi Peter sang O mere Sona re, Hemang Thakkar sang Ek ladki ko dekha, and Padma Iyengar sang Aaj jaane ki zid na karo. These songs were certainly inspiring for many and they were followed by some melodious duets that helped positive vibes flow across. The selection of songs ranged from the ones of the old era, transitioning beautifully into the new era. A section of songs were particularly dedicated to Amitabh Bachchan and A.R.Rahman.

Musical-in-1

The outstanding band, ‘Rhythm of Dreams’, owned by Hemang Thakkar did a fantastic job, along with its participants, Dishant Thakkar (on the Drums), Renison Macwan (on the keyboard) and Jagdish Sheth (on Dholak & Congo). Some dance schools also performed with their bright and talented students. One of the performing teams was Bindya Suresh Babu’s ‘Taal’, which is a group of like-minded ladies, and some of its participants other than Bindya were Jamie Mathew & Nandita Rajagopalan. Another team that cheered the guests was Soumee Choudhury’s Kathak Nitya Kala Kendra, which performed with its participants, Karnika Choudhury, Bhavika Chandak, Shabnam Heiramath and Chandana Sharma. While Soumee’s team swayed to the traditional tunes, Lakshmi Peter owned Lakshmi Dance and Music Academy, participated along with its team, Keerthana, Neesa, Mariah and Julia. The musical journey was then followed by a short speech on the rescue operation, by Arun Dev and Aseem Deshpande of Sewa. They shared their heart wrenching and emotional experiences on how they rescued people and pets, and participated in Sewa’s cleanup efforts, while witnessing the massive amount of property damages. 

Their emotional note was followed by some light entertainment that added some more spark to the night. Auction of items, and raffle games were played, while scrumptious food was being served. The mouth-watering dinner was sponsored by Nirmanz Food Boutique, Aling’s Chinese Cuisine, and Biryani Pot. The other sponsors that supported this event were Murali Santhana, Deep Foods, Deco Art, Radio Dabang 105.3FM, Indo-American News, Humtumdesi.com Houston, Rhythm of Dreams, Bollywood Shake Houston, FourWay Travel, Sonal Shah, and Dr. Virendra Mathur. The light and sound was managed professionally by Sage Productions. The support for the evening were the volunteers and some of them were Ashish Jain, Gagan Panday, Swati, and Indira. 

Mousumi Banerjee was overwhelmed with the response she received. She stated, “The entire event was planned in 3 weeks, and this was extremely challenging. But after the success of the event I realized that it was worth the effort. I would like to thank the entire community for pouring in their support unconditionally. I hope our small effort will make a difference to the countless people who lost everything in this disaster”.

While experts say it could take Houston a really long time to fully recover from Harvey, organizations such as Sewa really help make a difference by providing aid. This was truly a memorable evening and we wish Sewa the best for their continued efforts dedicated towards a noble cause. 

You too can do your bit and volunteer or donate by visiting their web page at https://sewausa.org/chapter/houston/houston-overview or by getting in touch with Sewa at Houston@sewausa.org

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