SAN JOSE, Calif. — Child Rights and You America, or CRY America, a nonprofit with a mission to secure, protect and honor the rights of India’s children, held its second annual fundraiser gala May 5 at the Crowne Plaza here.

The gala, attended by nearly 100 guests, started with a meet-and-greet over cocktails, then proceeded to a slide show over dinner depicting the work that has been achieved by CRY America since its inception 15 years ago.

Celebrity guest Abhay Deol, a noted actor from Bollywood, along with CRY America president Shefali Sunderlal and Dr. Shambhunath Research Foundation program director Dr. Rolee Singh gave impassioned speeches on the need for people to support the nonprofit.

The attendees got to see testimonials by children who have been helped by CRY and who want to give back by helping other children. CRY America has impacted close to 700,000 children and around 3,676 villages in India primarily by raising funds largely from the Indian American community in the U.S. and sending them for child development, healthcare, nutrition and protection projects in India.

Deol spoke candidly about the bleak state of the underprivileged children. He talked about how India has among the highest rates of child labor, highest infant mortality rate and child marriage amongst other things.

“We are a very young country but that’s no excuse to not be able to give opportunity and to reach out to all the people,” he said, adding an urgent appeal to the guests to open their hearts and purses for the cause of underprivileged children.

Singh, who works on the grass roots level for an NGO in Varanasi, shared the heart-wrenching story of Shubu, who was married off at age 14.

Within two years she had three children. One night she overheard her husband trying to sell her off. This incident reached Singh who, with the help of local authorities, went to intervene and saved the girl from being trafficked.

She went on to share many instances where her organization, with CRY’s support, has been able to step in and protect young girls from human trafficking and child marriages. She credited CRY with being transparent, democratic, accountability and for standing up for a child no matter how controversial the child’s situation is.

Sunderlal thanked the supporters, corporate sponsors, sponsors, volunteers, project partners and everyone who has supported CRY over the years.

“You are an integral part of CRY and your support allows us to ensure that thousands of children are able to go to sleep educated, healthy and protected.” she emphasized.

The evening was supported by prominent guests from the Bay Area, including Arti and Ketan Duvedi, Sushmita and Sujay Saha, Nisha and Sid Yenamandra,  Pooja and Vinod Rajani, Vaishali and Kartik Paramasivam, Meghna and Vinay Patwardhan, Amit and Revathi Duvedi,  Anuya and Prasad  Reddy, Renu and Chaitanya Upadhaya,  Sarika and Ameya Limaye,  the Kris Family Foundation, Murthy Pappu and Kiran, Kavita and Sundar Raman, Karishma and Kunal Patel, Monica Bargaonkar, and Veena and Animesh Pata, according to a press release.

Sunderlal told India-West that the May 5 gala was part of a handful of planned galas to be held in select cities throughout the country. A gala was held in San Diego May 6 at the Marriott La Jolla.

“CRY America is more of an awareness raising and fundraising organization in the U.S. Our primary focus is to raise money for children in India,” Sunderalal added.

The evening also featured Bollywood dances by NKD Arts and Deepak Arora, and was emceed by RJ Archana Panda, with Manoj as the DJ.

The fundraising included pledges, which went as high as $10,000, and a silent auction. Auction items were donated by notable Indian artists such as Prakash Deshmukh, Dinkar Jadhav, Suresh Gulage, Deepa Hekre, designer ensembles by Ritu Kumar, Surili Goyal, Payal Singhal, Deepali Shah, Gaurang Shah, Tarun Tahiliani, Ahilya, Nikasha. The auction also included  jewelry donated by Rosentique, Kareena Nahar, Sia, Just Jewelry, and KD Jewelry.

Karishma, a San Francisco based jewelry designer, told India-West, “I am auctioning one of my jewelry pieces here today and that is my first step towards getting involved with CRY.”

The gala, for which the dinner was catered by Amber, raised more than its target of $50,000.

Other than galas, the CRY America volunteers organize many events such as walkathons, cricket matches to muster support. In the 15 years of its being in the United States, CRY has 25,000 donors and 2,000 volunteers.

More information about the nonprofit can be found by visiting www.america.cry.org.

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