AIF’s Women’s Circle of Hope contributes 25K to support women with disability in India

The funds raised is the result of a year-long process of an educational journey about a critical development issue and a deeper process of giving.

The launch year of the American India Foundation’s Circle of Hope culminated with a celebration on June 7th in Belmont, Massachusetts. The founding members proudly handed over a check for $25,000 to the new initiative of the AIF’s ABLE (Ability Based Livelihoods & Empowerment) program called RAISEWISE.

This yearlong program will help and support 100 women with disability in Bangalore in the state of Karnataka empowering them in self-defense techniques, life skills, counselling, awareness on sexual and reproductive health and financial literacy.

In September of last year the Circle of Hope was launched in Belmont as a unique but collective approach to giving and philanthropy. “We had an idea of bringing together like-minded women to dive into philanthropy at a more intimate and deeper level than through a large celebratory and a fun event. We decided to embark on a journey of philanthropy together and unpack the giving process and mobilize resource to support women in India and enhance opportunities for them to succeed,” said Farida Kathawalla and Nirmala Garimella, Co-founders of Circle of Hope.

This led to the group of sixteen women who share the same passion to dialogue, convene and approach philanthropy through a lens of empathy and self-learning. AIF womens circle

In this action-oriented process, the group engaged in discussions on development issues over the course of the year that included a Jeffersonian dinner and sharing of ideas on philanthropy and women’s empowerment. Well known guest speakers who participated included Colette Phillips, Alyssa Wright and Marla Fletcher – who are celebrated and accomplished leaders in their respective fields.

The group collaborated with Sajit Menon American India Foundation’s Director of Programs in India and with the help of the various program heads received a number of proposals that were gender centric.  The Circle of Hope members then went on to cast their vote to choose the program to support. The winning proposal was the Ability Based Livelihoods & Empowerment [ABLE] program.  ABLE’s Director Manish Kumar said,” We stand committed to empower women especially those with disabilities and this support will only catalyze our efforts “womens-circle-AIF

The current members of the group include, Preetha Chally, Neeru Oberoi, Pratima Srinivasan, Nalini Sharma, Anu Chitrapu, Mona Godbole, Namita Krishnan, Sangita Thakore, BJ Selenkow-Rippberger, Vaithehi Muttulingam, Ratti Handa, Maegan Oberoi, Shikha Malhotra and Sharda Kaul besides the two co-founders Farida Kathawalla and Nirmala Garimella.  The group hopes to replicate this experience in other geographies and also direct their effort towards other critical social issues.

The Circle of Hope was started to inspire, educate and empower women philanthropists through the power of collective giving to positively impact the lives of underprivileged girls and women in India and amplify the awareness and impact of AIF programs in India and deepen the engagement of philanthropic minded women.

(Venky Raghavendra is a Contributing Editor. He is Vice-President, Safe Water Network & Advisor to Government of India’s National Skills Development Corporation.)

More from Venky Raghavendra:

From Georgetown to Hyderabad: A journey of impact, service and smiling faces (May 28, 2018)

Empowering women is more than giving opportunities: Manavi’s Navneet Bhalla (April 8, 2018)

‘Saankal’ made all struggle in Mumbai worth it: Tanima Bhattacharya(November 27, 2017)

The collective power of UK diaspora to tackle critical issues in South Asia(September 11, 2017)

A new giving group, ‘Circle of Hope,’ to be launched in Boston on September 10 (September 6, 2017)

SKN Foundation: Impacting the community, one family at a time (August 1, 2017)



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