LONG BEACH, CA - The Los Angeles Chapter of ‘Akshaya Patra’ held a reception and dinner with Vicente Fox, former President of Mexico and renowned physician and author Deepak Chopra at the Renaissance Long Beach Hotel here on January 31. Hosted by Emily Rosenbaum, CEO of Akshaya Patra Foundation USA,
The event kicked off with a cocktail reception followed by the main event which started with a video presentation of testimonials from the children and parents about how the meal program is helping them.
Keynote speaker Fox spoke on the powerful feelings of joy, love and compassion for doing service to others and his association with Chopra who made him aware of the advantages of meditation and spirituality. Through Chopra he learned about the Akshaya Patra Foundation and on his visit to India in 2012, he made it a point to visit Akshaya Patra kitchens. Fox, a businessman for most of his life, was astounded by the profound professionalism of the kitchens and the industrial miracle of its distribution network. He also experienced the joy of visiting the schools and interacting with the kids.He assured the donors in the audience that giving to this foundation is money well spent knowing that it is being used wisely and with great productivity.
Neil Grover an entrepreneur from Palm Springs introduced Chopra as the author of 80 best sellers who was named as one of the top 100 heroes and icons of this century by Time Magazine. Chopra, being on the Akshaya Patra advisory board has a close association with the organization. Chopra asked the audience to make a fist to demonstrate the side view of a human brain and spoke about the three parts of human brain reptilian, limbic and cortical.The reptilian brain does not have any emotions and looking at the state of world affairs with environmental destruction and wars leading to poverty and hungry children, it seems like the reptilian brain is in charge. The limbic brain is possessed by all mammals that have the capacity of love, joy, empathy and compassion. What distinguishes the humans from mammals is the cortical brain which is capable of self-awareness and self-inquiry and consciousness.
He stressed that ‘Satchidananda’ the state of eternal bliss is possible for all human beings provided they get in touch with their intuition and harness their intentions. He ended by quoting Rabindranath Tagore. “Every child that is born is proof that God has not given up on human beings and so let us not give up”.
Emily Rosenbaum spoke about how on this very day, Jan. 31, four years ago, she wrote a check to Akshaya Patra as a donor after seeing the pain of mothers with hungry children during her trip to India . Four years on she has become the face of this organization that she so admires. She spoke about how Akshaya Patra combines the professionalism of the for-profit sector and the deep compassion of the non-profit sector to address two critical social challenges facing India: malnutrition and access to education
Manu Shah of MSI Stone who rose from humble beginnings to become a successful Marble and granite exporter had just arrived from India after a 28 day trip in which he and his wife visited the Akshaya Patra kitchens, spoke about his admiration of the magnitude of these giant kitchens which churn out 100,000 hot nutritious meals every day to children who can escape the perpetual cycle of poverty. The children were not far behind in their zeal to contribute. Tara Mandal, Youth ambassador of UNICEF and granddaughter of Chopra spoke about how as a regular school girl she relies on her mother to provide her with hot food when she comes back tired from school but she realizes not many children in India are so fortunate as they may not be able to get one square meal a day. She spoke about the difference between surviving and living and she hoped that these children served by Akshaya Patra live with hope and joy. Arjun Tarsadia talked about how he donated $200 along with his cousin by holding a garage sale after learning that $15 serves a meal to one kid for one year. Capping the speeches , L.A. Chapter Chair Vandana Tilak gave a vote of thanks by saying “your Dharma is your calling” and thanked Chopra for his generous donation of $50,000 .
She encouraged the audience to open their hearts and purses and be generous and said that if everybody pledged just $15 a month for a year it would feed thousands of children.
The event was helmed by a core team consisting of Vandana and Ravi Tilak, Krutika and Pravin Pranav, Nithin Bajaj, Nandini Chopra, Parul, Michelle, Jaishree and Sharad Mehta. The L.A. Chapter holds three major fundraisers every year.
A sumptuous dinner was served by Delhi Palace whose owner Manohar Lal was honored and presented with a ceremonious shawl by Chopra. Rajiv Satyal actor and comedienne emceed the show and kept the crowd in splits with his witty jokes. H VinainiJayasinghe who performed a Bharatanatyam dance piece.