Going back to his Mexican immigrant roots, he recalled how vital a role education had played in his life and made him what he is today. “The role of the first is to open a door for the rest,” he said. This is what the Indian-American community was all about – giving back to the disadvantaged by helping Pratham to realize its goal of providing education to all. It is not just children but women who are beneficiaries of Pratham’s programs. The yardstick of true development was the progress of women and Pratham was instrumental in this.
However, education is not just a challenge in India but in the US too. Giving statistics he spoke of how American students are way behind their counterparts in the world specifically in the area of math and science.The challenge is to give every child a chance, in the India and the US.
Raj Dhami, the president of Pratham L.A., shared how education helped him shape his life and the sacrifices made by his parents. He also announced that Sudesh and Chitra Arora made a donation of $500,000 to Pratham this year. And, the major donor was Sarva Mangal Trust of the Shah family who gave $50,000.
With a flattering Introduction by Navneet Chugh Priety Zinta connected with the audience, speaking from the heart. “Don’t tell me the sky is the limit, everyone has a right to education,” she said. It was heartwarming and she was impressed to see the love the Indian-American community still has for their native land – India - and their desire to better the lives of people there.
A lively, light hearted banter followed as Navneet Chugh quizzed Zinta attempting to pry out of her information which her fans where longing to hear. “I am looking for a big fat diamond ring,” she quipped when Chugh asked her why she is not married yet and what is she looking for in a husband. “What do you have against Sikhs and Hindus?,” Chugh asked Zinta since she has made 37 movies, and kissed only Salman Khan and Saif Ali Khan on screen. “I did not kiss Salman Khan,” Zinta managed to fight back.
Zinta said that the making of Veer Zarra was very emotional for her, and she cried 70 days that it took for the movie to be made.
Zinta was presented an award, “Glory of India” in recognition of her philanthropy and involvement with different charitable organizations particularly pushing the cause of women and orphans in India.
Pratham Co-founder Madhav Chavan introduced three beneficiaries who flew in from India to attend the event; Rani Sharma, Pankaj Kumar Pauda and Parveen Salim Sayyed. Each one of them spoke to the gathering sharing their stories on how Pratham had changed their lives. Madhav explained how nervous they were and how they had taken great pains to be able to speak in English.
Parveen Sayyed currently heads the National Urdu program at Pratham based in Mumbai . She has worked hard to get to where she is today and it is her courage and determination that speaks volumes for how she has scaled her aspirations. Pankaj Kumar’s story is all about the student becoming the teacher. Since October 2012, he has been an assistant teacher for the food and beverages course he took two years earlier which landed him a job at the Taj Hotel. Shunning a lucrative career he returned to Aurangabad to help impart his training to others. After completing high school Rani Sharma decided to join Pratham as a Balwadi Teacher when she was only 16.Soon after she was made a supervisor. Despite resistance from her family she continued to work at Pratham holding several positions at Pratham.Sshe joined the Vocational Training Program. The Beauty Entrepreneurship program was piloted in November 2011. Rani’s hard work helped to grow the number of beauty entrepreneurship centers. Since 2013, Rani has also helped set up beauty training centers whihc have been established in partnership with knowledge partner, Godrej, which provides Pratham with capital support and content.