New York: On June 11th, 2015, AIF held its Annual Spring Awards Gala at the historic Cathedral of Saint John Divine in New York City. Over 500 successful leaders from the corporate, non-profit, government, and philanthropic sectors came together to raise funds and awareness for AIF’s programs, including the Learning and Migration Program (LAMP) which is AIF’s signature program educating children of seasonal migrant workers and communities impacted by migration across India. Over $2.85 million was raised for AIF, of which over $450,000 was raised during the pledge drive to support LAMP.
“The Gala demonstrated how bringing people together from across all sectors and from all walks of life can have a huge impact,” said M.A. Ravi Kumar, the CEO of AIF. “The funds pledged this evening will go a long way in educating these children and giving them a chance at a brighter future.”
AIF honored Manoj Bhargava, Founder/CEO of 5-Hour Energy, and George Oliver, CEO of Tyco International, for their corporate and philanthropic leadership, as well as their investment in India. Both spoke about their passion for progress in India and the responsibility of companies to give back. Special guest Indian cinema icon and activist Rahul Bose commended AIF on its innovative work in disrupting poverty in India and talked about how receiving an education can have a powerful impact in a child’s life.
The emotional highpoint of the event came when Jashobanti Mahanand, a 19-year-old young woman from Odisha, shared her story about working in migration sites. “Tears come down my eyes when I remember those days,” said Mahanand. “In the brick kilns, children were involved in the work; my job was to flip the half dried bricks in the hot sun.” In 2005, LAMP gave Mahanand the opportunity to receive an education and to live in a hostel with other children of seasonal migrant workers. Ten years after taking part in the program, Mahanand is now a first-year college student studying political science. “Because of LAMP, I have the drive to complete my education and become a teacher, so that I can provide support to the children in my village.”
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