Last Saturday was a special day here at AIC – not only did we (Eric, I, volunteers Kalya and Judith, Aakash, Sanjay, Geeta, Jyoti, Pooja and Ashwini) have the opportunity to get dressed up and attend a fancy Valentine’s Day dinner at the Westin Hotel here in Pune, but the event was also a huge fundraiser for AIC – win, WIN!
Backstory: A group of lovely women who call themselves the Expat Wives of Pune have taken AIC under their collective wing. They have organized two parties for the kids in the last six months (trick-or-treating for Halloween and the huge holiday party in December), visit our programs frequently, arrange donations and advocate for AIC in ways big and small. And on top of all that, they decided to arrange a Valentine’s Day fundraiser, and have spent the last couple months putting inordinate amounts of time and energy into the event, making sure that everything went off without a hitch.
It was a magical evening on the grassy lawn of the Westin, overlooking the river – beautiful Valentine’s Day décor (glitter, chocolates, roses – you name it, they thought of it), an incredible array of food, live music, dancing, raffle prizes, dancers entertaining the crowd, a silent auction and so much more! Attending this type of event was definitely a first for the kids, and they were totally spellbound!
Although the entire evening was amazing, there were two highlights that really stood out to me:
The emcee decided to call the girls up on stage to read the raffle numbers that had been selected. As soon as they heard about this plan, looks of terror and anxiety flashed across their faces. They hadn’t been expecting to get up on a stage and speak into a microphone in front of so many adults, but they bravely rehearsed their required 1-line public speaking debuts (“Hi, my name is _________ and the winning ticket numbers are __________”) and waited for their turns to speak. As Geeta took the microphone to start them off, I felt nervous for her, but she smiled, and launched into a clear, confident monologue, proceeding to tell the audience not only her name, but also about her studies at Nagarwala School, her hobbies and her life at AIC – before announcing the winning ticket numbers! The other girls followed her lead, and I couldn’t have been prouder watching them, especially when shy Ashwini and typically-bashful Pooja took the mic and talked about themselves in front of such a distinguished adult audience. It was awesome.
And finally – at the end of the evening, the organizers of the event presented AIC with the proceeds from the event in the form of a huge novelty cheque for SEVEN LAKH RUPEES (INR 700,000). Incredible. And that wasn’t even including additional donations that came in later from the raffle ticket sales and the silent auction! By all measures, the night was a tremendous success, and we want to extend a huge thank you to the wonderful women who were the primary organizers of the event – Carolyn Mackintosh-Stewart, Kath Bond, Idania Duncan and Michele Randall. We can’t thank you enough for your commitment to AIC – knowing that we have your support means so much to us!
And many, many, many thanks also to Annie Andrews, Jason and Loveena Leonardo, Sarah, Adriana Tremain, Shweta from the Westin, Ajit Sukhwani, Rick Bond and the rest of the husbands for their support and help, and the companies and individuals that so graciously made donations, sponsored event expenses and donated items and services for the silent auction – The Westin, Lear Corporation, Prego, Dar Al-Handasah, IFB, Positronic Global Connector Solutions, Everything Expats, Kingfisher, Ra Lifestyles, Aviva, Just Antiques, American Axle & Manufacturing, Diva Bellydance Academy, Volkswagen, Shree Extrusions Limited, The Providore, Pinku Needle and Craft, Farooq Trading Corporation, Dorabjee’s, Kashmir Dowry, Happy Heart, Fratelli Wines, Le Mont High School, Ray Advertising and many more! We are so appreciative of the outpouring of support we have experienced before, during and after the event. THANK YOU!
There were too many great photos to choose from, so here’s a slideshow…enjoy!
(Gahhhh the kids look so grown up…it seriously kills me!)