Pratham Houston Holiday Luncheon Raises Record Breaking Funds For Women Empowerment Programs

Pratham Houston Executive Board Members at Pratham Houston’s Holiday Luncheon 2018 on Friday, December 7, at The Junior League of Houston. Photos: Deborah Wallace, Barfield Photography

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HOUSTON: Pratham Houston’s Holiday Luncheon 2018 on Friday, December 7th at The Junior League of Houston was a resounding success from every aspect: large attendance, excellent entertainment and most importantly, record breaking fundraising – $180,000 towards women empowerment programs.

As with previous years, the funds raised at the Luncheon are donated to Pratham’s Women Entrepreneurship program the Beauty and Wellness vocational training program.

Fashion show by Saks Fifth Avenue.

Under the hardworking leadership of Pratham Houston’s President, Asha Dhume, the event was well organized, entertaining and focused – “Give Women a Chance – Unleash their Potential.”

The Mistress of Ceremonies Rekha Muddaraj, TV anchor from KHOU 11 News welcomed the guests and invited Asha Dhume for her opening remarks. Asha thanked the guests for supporting the cause and for their generosity in donating for so many years. She mentioned how Pratham USA was started over 20 years ago with the initial support of Mr. Vijay Goradia and has now grown into a large organization helping millions of underprivileged children in India. Asha emphasized that Pratham USA has been named one of the top charities by The Houston Chronicle and has earned the highest 4-star rating from Charity Navigator for eight consecutive years – placing it in the top 3 % of American charities.

Pratham Houston President, Asha Dhume

The Co-Chairs of the Luncheon, ABC -13 Women Of Distinction, Farida Abjani, Shawntell McWilliams and Dr. Sippi Khurana took to the stage to share their perspective. Farida Abjani and Shawntell McWilliams mentioned they were grateful for this opportunity and spoke briefly on their personal reason to support Pratham and why women empowerment is important. Dr. Sippi Khurana, Pratham Houston Advisory Board member, shared her interaction over video-conferencing with students and alumni of Pratham’s vocational training programs. She mentioned that it was gratifying to see so many people in India being benefitted by Pratham programs.

Dr. Marie Goradia, Pratham USA National Board member, conducted a meaningful pledge drive in her convincing and compassionate style – urging guests to donate generously. She narrated the story of a young woman alumnus of Pratham’s entrepreneurship program, who fought against the oppression of her abusive husband and the challenges of society to emerge successfully with her own small business.

Pratham Luncheon Co-Chairs: Shawntell McWilliams (left), Dr. Sippi Khurana, Pratham Houston President Asha Dhume, and Farida Abjani.

During a delectable lunch, guests including prominent Houstonians and community stalwarts networked and enjoyed the holiday event. The event’s grand finale was a spectacular fashion show produced by Lenny Matuszewski for Sak’s Fifth Avenue, models by Neal Hamil followed by a surprise Kendra Scott giveaway of 50 surprise boxes of jewelry – proceeds of which were donated back to Pratham.

The afternoon ended with Mr Swatantra Jain, Pratham USA National Board member and CFO, handing a token of appreciation to the co-chairs Farida Abjani, Dr. Sippi Khurana, Shawntell McWilliams and announced a personal Facebook matching campaign.

The volunteer team had done a tremendous job just like they do every year to ensure that the event was executed in a meticulous way. The Pratham USA team including Vikas Bahl, Mani Surkari, Dimpal Kalani and Manasi Pendharkar contributed to a successful event.

Please mark April 20, 2019 in your calendars for Pratham USA’s 20th Anniversary Gala celebrating and honoring Mr. Vijay Goradia, founder of Pratham USA. It promises to be another elegant, entertaining and amazing event. Please reach out to Vikas Bahl at for sponsorship opportunities.

To learn more about Pratham and the organizations work please visit