Bollywood songs and dance, an auditorium of joyful audience members filling the aisles and surrounding the stage with electrifying dance, as performers sing their favorite Bollywood songs. This is an evening with Soor Aur Saptak™, which has been rallying Portland’s Indian community and friends through its annual charity event for over six years.
Soor Aur Saptak™ (SAS) was started by a group of motivated & talented singers from the Portland, Oregon area for the sole purpose of raising money for those in need, the blind. Inspired through the music of Bollywood films, the group of performers has been giving back to society since their first performance in February 2012. In 2013, SAS began donating the proceeds from their charity event to benefit Seva’s child sight program in India. To date, they have raised nearly $110,000 through 6 performances in as many years.
“It is our privilege to perform in front of a passionate and musically minded audience and we have fun doing this program year after year”, commented the Soor Aur Saptak™ team represented by Mini Jairaj, Sai and Usha Prasad, Priya Venugopal, Preeti Rao, Abhinav Rastogi, Aseem Agarwal, Jyoti Veeramoney, Gidu Sriram, Deepashri Barve, and Sandhiprakash (Sandhi) and Anjali Bhide.
Sandhi and Anjali Bhide, SAS founders, acknowledge, “This has all been possible because of kind and generous support from so many, Intel Corporation for allowing us to use the auditorium, the audience, the performers, the donors, and a large number of dedicated and motivated volunteers and their selfless help in terms of effort and time.”
Seva means selfless service and that is what Portland community does. Community members open their hearts to help restore eyesight to hundreds of blind/visually impaired/financially disadvantaged pediatric patients in rural India. The community comes together with a common purpose and belief that “giving vision to a blind or visually impaired child opens tremendous opportunities for the young life, provides prospects to become a productive citizen or whatever the child wants to be, to get educated, and lead a normal life.”
Last year’s 2017 performance broke all previous years’ totals by raising close to $43,000 for the Fund. Of that, Intel's matching funds program generously matched all employee gifts, totaling $13,434. Between July 2013-August 2015, 322 surgeries were performed to preserve/restore their vision. During 2015/16, Soor Aur Saptak™ contributed toward the purchase of GE Medical pediatric anesthesia machine for an Indian hospital in West Bengal. Between July 2016-February 2017, 258 schools and 68,928 children were screened, 71 surgeries were performed, 93 glasses were provided and 240 low vision devices were offered to children for medical treatment. None of this would have been possible without the strong support and selfless help of the Portland community.
Seva Board Chair, Deb Galardi, has attended the event for the last 3 years and says this about the evening:
"Soor Aur Saptak™ is one of my favorite Seva events of the year. The program offers talented performers and an engaged audience who come together to make a difference. The funds raised by Soor Aur Saptak have gone directly into equipment and services that have restored sight and alleviated suffering of thousands of children in India. I am looking forward to another fun and successful program on February 24, 2018!"
Seva’s partner hospital in West Bengal, Vivekananda Mission Ashram, Netra Niramay Niketan (VMANNN), has been administering the program since 2015. Starting this past July, VMANNN expanded the program to include a school screening program in Purba Medinipur and South 24 Parganas Districts, as well as 10 other districts in West Bengal. This will reach 12 out of the 23 districts in West Bengal with support from the Soor Aur Saptak™ Fund. The funds cover the costs of low vision devices, medical treatment, costs for pediatric surgery and travel cost of attendants during surgery and medical treatment for children. This fund will be used to cover those children who would not otherwise receive eye care.
Additionally, the funds will be used to purchase one critically needed monitor for the General Anesthesia Machine at Chandi Eye Hospital in West Bengal, and to begin a long-term fellowship in Pediatric Ophthalmology. By offering this fellowship, more ophthalmologists will be trained in how to provide high quality, appropriate care for babies and children.
The event in 2018 will celebrate its 7th year. This year the venue will be even bigger with seating for up to 800 people. The venue will be announced on Facebook once all the formalities are completed, through email list, and through a short addendum to this web page.
A Soor Aur Saptak dancer.
Seva Board Chair, Deb Galardi and Seva Director of Development, Julie Nestingen.