Masterchef Christine Ha Inspires Pratham Luncheon Audience

Pratham Houston chapter Board of Directors with Pratham USA CEO and Global Executive Manisha Bharti (seated on far right) at the Pratham Houston 2021 Luncheon on December 9th.

HOUSTON: An afternoon of storytelling by a blind chef and restaurateur brought smiles and inspiration to a Houston crowd at the end of a difficult year around the world. The Indian-American community came together on December 9, 2021, at the Pratham Houston luncheon to celebrate resilience and learning for children in India. The highlight of the afternoon was a conversation with Christine Ha, the blind cook who won season 3 of ‘MasterChef.’

In a conversation with Pratham Houston board member, Ananya Sarkar, Christine Ha inspired audiences with a personal account of her journey as a visually impaired chef. Ha’s words resonated with the audience and connected with the mission of Pratham. She said, “I want to thank Pratham USA for inviting me here today for such a noble cause. My parents came to the US from Vietnam in 1975, right around the time of the fall of Saigon, to make a better life for themselves and their unborn daughter. Growing up in the US, I was taught the importance of education and its generational impact. Pratham’s work gives underprivileged children the opportunity to receive a quality education and make a better life for themselves.”

Ha’s first cookbook, Recipes from My Home Kitchen, was a New York Times best-seller. She has spoken about disability advocacy at the United Nations, served as a culinary envoy overseas for the American Embassy, and was a co-host on the Canadian cooking show “Four Senses” and a judge on “MasterChef” Vietnam. Ha’s first restaurant in Houston, The Blind Goat, was named a semi-finalist for 2019 Best New Restaurant in America by the James Beard Foundation. Her second restaurant, Xin Chào, opened in September 2020.

The theme of the afternoon focused on resilience and learning. Across India, the impact of the pandemic on education will be felt for many years. Lack of access to digital learning heightened disparities that already existed – particularly for girls and children in rural and under-served communities. When schools shut down in 2020, Pratham was uniquely positioned to step up and provide support to children with effective, daily remote learning opportunities. As schools reopen in India, many children will return to the classroom without the necessary fundamental skills – or they may not be able to return at all. Pratham teams are ensuring children continue to learn by leveraging technology, creating educational content and engaging with communities.

Dhiren Shethia, President of Pratham Houston, said “The devastating effects of the pandemic on education will likely be felt by children from low-income families in India for many years. These children and their families do not have any safety net or educational resources, and rely on organizations like Pratham for support. The Pratham Houston 2021 Luncheon brought the Houston community together to renew our commitment to India’s children. It was an honor to have Christine Ha share what Pratham’s cause means to her at our event this year. Her speech resonated with many in the audience, who are passionate about giving children an opportunity to learn. We are so delighted that funds raised from this event will support learning for over 4,000 children in India.”