ALAPIO GALA Raises Funds for Free Clinics, Free Surgery Projects

ALAPIO GALA Raises Funds for Free Clinics, Free Surgery Projects

LOS ANGELES — The Association of Los Angeles Physicians of Indian Origin held its first charity fundraiser at the Westin Hotel here Mar. 18, featuring a program of glamour and glitz, with ALAPIO members in attendance, including Dr. Bharat Patel, Dr. Parvin Syal, Dr. Swaraj Bose and others. The event attracted about 600 people not only from the Indian American physician community, but also prominent members of the business community and industrialists from Southern California.

Prior to the main event, a red carpet provided photo-ops for the guests, while an open bar and delectable appetizers (and later, a sumptuous dinner spread), catered by Manohar Bhatia of Delhi Palace in La Puente, stimulated their appetites. The program was kick-started by Nauzad Sadry with an introduction of Bharat Patel, who spearheads the organization, who elaborated on the mission of ALAPIO “to help the less fortunate have access to healthcare at no cost.” Thus, the theme of the evening, “The Art of Giving,” was reiterated as various appeals were made for donations and volunteer services.

Bharat Patel passionately requested the audience to “resolve that no one should be denied access to healthcare because of their financials, social status or their country of origin or their status.” He said: “We all came from faraway land and became successful because of opportunities provided by USA and the society. It is our duty to give our gratitude and resources back to the community. We all want to be more successful but should not forget to carry with us those who are less fortunate.” Quoting Swami Vivekananda, he added: “Huge wealth is a mass of evil unless it is used to help others.”

Since its inception in June 2013, ALAPIO has rapidly become a recognizable entity in Southern California. As one guest, Dr. Anil Shah, put it, the activities of ALAPIO are “a great way to give back to the community.” It has previously brought entertainers such as Shreya Ghoshal and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, along with “Kishan vs. Kanhaiya” and “Mera Wo Matlab Nahi Tha,” two plays showcasing the talent of Paresh Rawal and Anupam Kher, respectively.

Fulfilling the motto of “health and well-being of all,” funds raised from these events have been utilized to provide free medical services and surgeries at the Beverly Surgery Center and Downey Clinic, both made available through the auspices of Bharat Patel, who was also the convener of the gala event. Membership of the organization is open to South Asian physicians and allied practitioners of related professions in the Southern California region. In addition to its philanthropic and volunteer services, ALAPIO also holds bi-monthly CMEs for accreditation.

A short video outlined the goals of the organization through the voices of various members. Dr. Parvin Syal, whom Patel referred to as “one of the pillars of the organization,” recited his poem entitled, “The Art of Giving.” Syal was also the creative force behind the production of the souvenir issue.

Inspirational speeches were given by Dr. Nitin Shah and Dr. Anil Shah. Nitin Shah, an anesthesiologist and intensivist, quoted a Chinese proverb to encourage people to give in order to find happiness: “If you want to be happy for a lifetime, go help someone else.” Anil Shah, a cardiologist, political activist and philanthropist, emphasized the importance of assuming a sense of personal responsibility “to constantly build and strengthen this land” and to “fortify our community” to get respect and acceptance in this country.

From dance to music, from classical to contemporary, from comedy to art, the event had it all. Nauzad Sadry, as emcee and stage manager, carried the show with an easy charm as he introduced the artists, who came from all parts of the globe. A graceful Mohiniyattam dance, its swirling footwork emphasizing feminine delicacy, by renowned dancer Vijaya Lakshmi, on one end of the spectrum, and a Bollywood “thumka” by the RRB Dance group of Rajat “Rocky” Batta, were interjected with an elegant ballroom dance by Anna Petrova and Forrest Walsh and a sensual tango dance by Ruxanda Calistru and Claudio Predieri from Argentina. An exotic belly dance by Tarciano Bonomo from Brazil got resounding applause.

The mood of the vocals was mostly classical — a Gaud Saranga raga beautifully portrayed by the young Rhea Pandit, daughter of illustrious music director Jatin Pandit, a video message from whom was also shown; a rendition of an Elvis golden oldie, “Falling in Love With You,” by multi-genre singer Jayme Clare; and a Portuguese operatic number by Chiara Arie.

A troupe choreographed by Smita Vasant modeled and showcased the jewelry of Craig and Shelly. A live auction of paintings and other collectors’ items was conducted by Basil Collier and Jeffrey from KB Auction, while a silent auction of multiple items continued throughout the evening.

Another highlight of the evening was the comedy of popular stand-up comic Rajiv Satyal, whose humor and jokes resonated easily with the crowd and were received with gusto. The evening culminated with the scintillating voice of Nauzad Sadry, who has captured immense popularity in an increasingly vast circle, as he energized the audience to whirl on their feet.

ALAPIO was able to raise funds in the amount of six figures to carry on its activities and to expand the free clinic and free surgery program.