Sharmila Tagore Fans Rush Enmasse to ‘Save a Mother’ Gala

SUGAR LAND: The Save a Mother organizers seem to have hit on a tried and true formula for their annual gala. Last year, actress Shabana Azmi filled in for the celebrity guest with awesome music, and humor from a local comedian filled in the space for the guests.

This year, it was the same combination, except with an actress from yesteryear, but more beloved by the older first generation audience, Sharmila Tagore, who posed as gracefully as ever for pictures with a long line of admirers.

The event was emceed by the poised Preity Bhagia and entertainment was by Ritika Saligram who sang several melodious songs. She was followed by comedian Anish Shah, who was hilarious and shared his take on day-to-day experiences. His stint included a humorous demonstration on wearing a saree and he picked the newly married Ananth Balakrishnan on the challenges faced by newly weds.

Veena Kaul, the President of SAM Houston highlighted the charities programs and progress in India made in the 11 years of operation. She welcomed the radiant Sharmila Tagore and welcomed Shiban Ganju the founder of SAM.

Clockwise from top left: Save a Mother Houston President Veena Kaul; SAM founder Shiban Ganju flew in from India for the national fundraising galas; singer Ritika Saligram sang favorites and comedian Anish Shah regaled with humorous skits. – Photos by Bijay Dixit/Unique Photo Images

A doctor by profession, Ganju realized that many women in rural india needed education and awareness to take charge of their health. So, he came up with the idea of Save A Mother to treat the problems experienced by young and new mothers. Volunteers visit door to door to convince women husbands and mother in laws to send women to attend training sessions.

During a short presentation, Kaul showed how SAM programs have shown effective results in the areas sam served. Maternal deaths were reduced by 90% and neonatal deaths were reduced by 67%. Deliveries in hospitals increased by 99%. SAM budgets cover initiatives that amount to about $100,000. But the organization is very cost conscious and keeps overheads to minimum so as to maximize funds to the field levels to benefit women and children in villages.

Kaul concluded that SAM started with one village and has spread the message to over 1,500 villages representing approximately 500000 women, while thanking board members for their efforts.

Shiban Ganju expressed his gratitude to for the support and talked about new initiatives. He explained how the launch of successful programs in villages gave the confidence to expand programs in an urban area near Benares Hindu University in Varanasi. The program will address total infection control in a slum.

Sharmila Tagore spoke with great emotion about the success of the SAM program and her connection with Ganju who has committed to make a difference in the lives of women and children in villages. The gala raised $114,000, which is the largest, raised since the inception of SAM 11 years ago. With their enthusiastic and persistent request for funds in a limited 15 minutes challenge, Preity and Anish Shah helped raised over $45,000. — Contributions from Jawahar Malhotra