Two of India’s finest womenswear designers, Priya Chhabria from Mumbai and Agnimitra Paul from West Bengal, came to Houston last month to initiate awareness and raise charitable funds for “Swachh Bharat Abhiyan” (Clean India Mission), a national campaign launched by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in October 2014. The campaign aims to: eliminate open defecation by constructing toilets for households/communities; eradicate the practice of manual scavenging; introduce modern and scientific municipal solid waste management practices; enable private sector participation in the sanitation sector; change people’s attitudes to sanitation and create awareness to these issues.
Unfortunately, the campaign efforts have only been properly executed by the India Development and Relief Fund (IDRF) in Gujarat (since 2009) and in Telangana (since 2013). The charity mission benefits 14,000 Below Poverty Line (BPL) families in 225 villages. Currently, IDRF is expanding to 3,000 BPL families in Bengal, in order to end open defecation and to create better, safer, and more hygienic environments.
In order to achieve this goal, IDRF teamed with Houston-based Aalponaa Event Designers to coordinate “Ramp With A Cause: A Charity Fashion Show and Dinner Gala.” As a company spearheaded by three women, Aalponaa acknowledges that women form the backbone of a society and yet suffer from severe gender inequality, especially in rural India. The event was an effort to raise funds to construct rural sanitation facilities in villages across India as well as an effort to bring awareness to the dangers women and daughters face with the lack of toilets and proper sanitation, i.e. brutal rape, adverse pregnancies, and the spread of disease.
The fashion show with models donning Priya Chhabria and Agnimitra Paul’s designs were a lovely contrast to the bleak realities of rural India and a lovely testament to the power of women everywhere! We had the opportunity to interview both designers, so be sure to read that in the upcoming month.
If you’re interested in donating for this cause, visit www.IDRF.org – your tax deductible contribution of $250 will enable one family to have a toilet and clean sanitation in their home and $1,000 will enable four families to have toilets in their home.
Photo Credit: Biyani Photography