Pratham Fashion Luncheon Glorifies Education and Empowers Women
By Guest Writer Sharron Melton
The day started off warm and overcast. Rain clouds were already gathering in the sky. But, the weather could not stop the excitement that was was about to take place, during a luncheon being held December 2nd, at the Junior League of Houston.
It was the Annual Pratham Holiday Luncheon & Fashion Show. For over 20 years, the mission of Pratham USA has been to promote education & literacy for children and women in India. But, this luncheon takes it a step further. In 2011 the Beauty Entrepreneurship Program was started, specifically aimed at helping women. The program provides education, vocational training, mentorship & financial support to female entrepreneurs across India.
So, on this day, fashionable and philanthropic women, and a few men, arrived in force, to show their support.
And how do I know this? I was honored to be the Emcee.
To see first hand, the amazing support in the packed room was heartwarming. It began as Pratham Houston President, Ash Shah, discussed the importance of educating women, and the message it sends to an entire community. He discussed how improving the lives of these women, it also improves their families and those around them.
We also heard about the children, like one who was featured in a video, named Nancy, who at first was withdrawn & shy. But, once she learned how to read, she began to flourish, and read to other children.
Keynote Speaker, Rice University Professor, and Director of Rice 360º Institute for Global Health, Dr. Rebecca Richards-Kortum, discussed the importance of education and health, and how they go hand in hand.
And one of the more powerful moments of the luncheon involved a video of a woman named Radha. Due to audio difficulties, at first those in attendance could not hear what was being said. But, Past Pratham President Dr. Marie Goradia, stepped up to the plate. She eloquently & passionately explained how Radha was married off at the age of 15, and abused by both Radha’s husband and his brothers. She later escaped, but had to leave her children behind. But, her world finally changed, when Pratham stepped in. Radha was educated and later opened her own beauty salon.
The celebration of beauty, didn’t end there. A Beautiful Fashion Show presented by Tootsies Creative Director Fady Armanious delivered as well. Showcasing the latest trends in Fall/ Winter Fashion from Baroque to Velvet, Darker Victorian Ruffles with a high neck to a little flash of 80’s inspiration. Also, lots of Shine and Shades of Darker Reds, the audience was more than pleased.
Overall, the Luncheon was a Big success. Raising over $136,000 dollars for the Program. And as the crowd began to leave, the feeling of happiness could still be felt around the room. And seeing the overwhelming satisfaction from so many, knowing one day, more women will get a second chance in their lives to achieve more, is what this program is all about.
Photo credit Deborah Wallace, Barfield Photography