Event raises more than $297,000 to support the education of children of Indian migrant workers.
ATLANTA: The Atlanta chapter of the American India Foundation (AIF) raised more than $297,000 in its second annual gala, held at the posh Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, GA, on April 2, 2016. About 240 guests, among them prominent business leaders, academics, philanthropists and community leaders, attended the high profile event.
According to the organization, $75,000 was raised during the pledge drive. The funds will go towards directly supporting AIF’s Learning and Migration Program (LAMP).
The event honored David Abney, President and CEO of UPS; Patrick K. Decker, President and CEO of Xylem Inc.; and N. K. Chaudhary, Founder of Jaipur Rugs. AIF also recognized Dennis Lockhart, President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
Notable personalities in attendance included U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-GA, President Pro-Tempore of the Georgia Senate David Shafer, state Attorney General Sam Olens and the two-time winner of Marketing Educator of the year award Professor Jag Sheth.
Lockhart, Victor Menezes, aretired Senior Vice Chairman of Citigroup and Chair Emeritus of AIF, and Nipun Mehta, Founder of ServiceSpace, were among the prominent speakers for the evening.
Lockhart acknowledged the tremendous contribution of the Indian diaspora to the economic as well as socio-cultural and political growth of the United States. He emphasized that India’s biggest strength over the US was its young population, a large majority of which is below 35 years of age. “The United States needs to have a smart immigration policy especially in light of its aging population,” he said.
Lockhart also took the opportunity to share a few anecdotes about his long-time colleague and friend Menezes.
Mehta reinforced the belief of being the change that we wish to see happen and ushered the idea of “giftivism” as being above wealth generation. He also talked about the power of “emotional capital.”
Ed Martinez received the honor on behalf of Abney, who could not attend the event due to overseas travel. He expressed sadness over the Kolkatta flyover tragedy and reiterated that UPS was committed to uplifting the disadvantaged in a vein similar to AIF and complimented the organization for its sterling track record in social change.
Xylem CEO Decker, the second honoree, recognized AIF’s transformational work with the most disadvantaged communities in India. He also took a moment to discuss his company’s work in WASH projects through Xylem’s “Watermark” initiative in India, as well as all over the world.
“AIF and I have a lot in common,” explained Honoree N. K. Chaudhary, the founder and chairman of Jaipur Rugs, who was the third honoree. “We both work from the heart and aim to create sustainable change in the lives of people, regardless of their class, caste, religion, etc”
He explained that it was this heartfelt dedication that drove his success, and that of 40,000 women weavers across 600 villages in India.
This is the second year that AIF held its gala in Atlanta. Its inaugural gala in 2015 brought together more than 200 guests and raised more than $100,000. The funds from that event’s pledge drive went towards supporting AIF’s programs that focus on livelihood — skilling both disadvantaged youth, especially those struggling with disabilities.
Dr. Amitabh Sharma, Chair of AIF’s Atlanta Leadership Council, reminisced being captivated by a radio punch-line “if you see someone without a smile, give one of yours” and talked about his bliss at now being fully dedicated to “giving.”
Across India, approximately 72 million people migrate from their villages in remote rural areas every year in search of labor in hazardous work sites, uprooting entire families for up to eight months at a time. Their children are forced to migrate with the parents, leaving behind their schools, friends, and communities.
LAMP has provided these children with resources to attend local schools, stable home and educational environments, as well as safe and structured care in seasonal residential hostels during migration season. According to AIF, more than 350,000 children have been educated over 9 states in India through the initiative so far. The organization says it only takes $50 to educate one child per year.