Up For A Cause, Up For Saving A Mother!

 Save A Mother Houston Chapter Board at the 10th Annual Gala, held on Sunday, May 6 at Sugar Land Marriott. Photos: Bijay Dixit

Save A Mother Houston Chapter Board at the 10th Annual Gala, held on Sunday, May 6 at Sugar Land Marriott. Photos: Bijay Dixit

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By Vanshika Vipin Varma

SUGAR LAND: Women die every hour in India from complications developed during childbirth. The maternal mortality rate (MMR) in India is the highest in the world and most of these women succumb to heavy blood loss. The key to the progress of a country lies in reducing its maternal and child mortality and morbidity and over the years, Government of India and a few private institutions have taken initiatives. Save A Mother (SAM) founded by Dr. Shiban Ganju is one such institution that has dedicated the last 10 years to reducing maternal and infant mortality in rural India by implementing an Effective Social Behavior change program. SAM has operated in 1500 villages and reached more than 3 million people. Currently present in 1100 villages, SAM is driven by a mission to develop healthcare solutions for the poor. This year Save A Mother organized its 10th Annual Gala, on the theme of Mother of Pearl, which was held on Sunday, May 6 at Sugar Land Marriott.

Veena Kaul, SAM President with the Guest of Honor and Keynote Speaker, Shabana Azmi.

Veena Kaul, SAM President with the Guest of Honor and Keynote Speaker, Shabana Azmi.

The theme set the essence of the fundraiser and the pearl embellished pretty ladies were dressed in their best to match the concept. Post the registration and the social hour the audience was welcomed with mouth-watering appetizers served by Madras Pavillion. Though it’s the era of digital photos, a printed photo can make a difference and add up to our smiles! And this is precisely what happened at the unique photo booth set up by photographer Bijay Dixit. People who got their photos clicked were handed over the photocopies after the gala. After this brief fun-filled moment the audience walked into the main hall where melodious songs awaited them. Students of Shreekrithi School of Music by Maha Krishnan and Sandeep Kumrouth have amazing stars, few of which amazed the audience with their euphonious songs. These students who mesmerized the guests were, Rohini Kumrouth, Siya Nair, Ria Pawa, and Amritha Thuruvengadam.

Dr. Shiban Ganju, SAM Founder

Dr. Shiban Ganju, SAM Founder

It was time for some other form of entertainment and the beautiful Emcee for the evening was called up on stage. Preity Bhagia, the multi-talented Emcee and SAM Board member had also done an excellent job at the last year’s gala. The show moved on to a presentation by Ashish Ganju, Vice President SAM USA. He is a results oriented leader and entrepreneur with an experience of leading the SAM Chicago team over 5 years. He shared his beautiful journey and the association with SAM, along with his experience in the villages of Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh. He demonstrated the impact that SAM has made in these villages and it was simply overwhelming to know that with the resources and direction of their organization, they could reduce maternal mortality by 90% and infant mortality by 60% there. The videos of women sharing their experiences with SAM were heart rendering. A proud fact that he stated was that in the 167 villages in the district of Gadag in Northern Karnataka, there was not a single maternal death in 2017. The audience was truly touched with this presentation, post which Veena Kaul, the President of Save A Mother came up on stage. She thanked everyone for their support before introducing the board. Amidst a thundering applause, she warmly welcomed and introduced the Guest of Honor and Keynote Speaker for the evening, Shabana Azmi.

Ashish Ganju, Vice-President SAM USA

Ashish Ganju, Vice-President SAM USA

Shabana’s accomplishments have gone way beyond the cinematic, and using leverage her celebrity and political status, she has actively participated in several social causes aligned to the rights of women. With a standing ovation right as she stepped onto the stage, Shabana shared her experience of working with non-profits over the last 3 decades and mentioned, “I have been familiar with Save A Mother’s work since its inception and I am very proud of their work. Running a non profit comes with several challenges, and I am proud to see SAM excel”. She shared some real-life case studies and through her speech her passion for this movement was evident. Before taking a bow, Shabana was generous enough to lend her voice to the audience and her melodious song wowed the guests. The impact of her speech was seen in the pledge drive, conducted by Preity Bhagia and Dr. Subodh Bhuchar that raised $30,000 and the gala overall raised $96,000.

SAM-in-3

The entertaining evening was made livelier by the comedian, Raj Sharma. Raj is a professional comic, a trained actor and a seasoned host. He is the co-creator and co-producer of the sold-out comedy show, “Raj Sharma Presents…”, a exhibit that combines stand up and charity, and benefits various foundations across the USA. Raj was outrageous and he tickled the audience’s funny bones with his quirky punch lines and perfect comic timings. The Gala Chairs, Girija Bhargava Patel and Dr. Veena Mathur delivered a vote of thanks, post that the evening rolled back to a perfect socializing experience. The audience relished palatable dinner and deserts. Therese Cole-Hubbs with Electric Karma was the event coordinator, while Nalini Kannan with Décor One beautifully decorated the venue and Darshak Thacker with Krishna Sounds provided live sound and lights. All the wonderful ladies were presented with a return gift on their way out, sponsored by iHeart Nature.

President Veena Kaul mentioned, “I am deeply honored and humbled by the amazing encouragement and support we have received from our donors to culminate in a successful gala. Congratulations to Shiban Ganju on making remarkable differences in women’s lives in India and kudos to my fantastic Save A Mother team for putting on such an elegant event to celebrate our 10th anniversary.”

Natesan Krishnamurthy, SAM Treasurer and the only male member of the SAM Houston team, an inspirational volunteer of the organization said, “The success of our ten-year celebrations with record $ 96000 raised is due primarily to the energetic, dedicated and amazing board members led by Veena Kaul, and the generous Houston community has enabled Save a Mother to continually expand its program.

The Houston Chapter Team includes: Veena Kaul, President; Natesan Krishnamurthy, Treasurer; Dr. Tyna Pariani, Secretary, Board members: Sakina Ali, Shalini Bhargava, Dr. Puneet Freibott, Dr. Rupa Iyer, Sangeeta Pasrija, Hema Prasad, Poonam Tulsiani, Dr. Veena Mathur, Girija Bhargava Patel, and Preity Bhagia.

To learn more about Save A Mother visit www.SaveAMother.org

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