Sir Ben Kingsley’s Scintillating Address at Relief International “Adopt a Family” Fundraiser
By Salma Basravi

Santa Ana, CA: The evening of June 2, 2006 turned out to be one of singular importance when members of various communities joined ours to inaugurate a fundraiser event “Adopt a Family”, at the Double Tree Hotel in efforts to lend yet another helping hand to those fellow humans who continue to be in distress, struck by the tragic Earthquake in Pakistan, since October of 2005.
The program ran smoothly that evening, thanks to the Master of Ceremony Mr. Afroze Hussaini who steered the event superbly. Many thanks to Dr. Farshad Rastegar the CEO of Relief International, and his entire team for initiating the way towards this worthy cause. Dr. Nazli Ahmed who was one of the volunteers in the field of duty shared her experiences with the audience: she recounted the sufferings of some individual families and the extent of their pain—from lost lives to homelessness!
The Consul General of Pakistan, Mr. Noor Mohammed Jadmani graced this occasion. He expressed his and the Government of Pakistan’s appreciation and gratitude for the communities’ generosity toward this worthy cause. He emphasized the pressing need for the continuity of the ongoing efforts.
Mr. Suki Kang, the pro-temp mayor of the city of Irvine, lauded the efforts of Relief International and all the community volunteers and expressed the warmth he felt as people from far and near have come together for a noble cause; he also thanked OCC and Kaiser for their generous contributions.

Pictures above: Glimpses of the fundraiser

Dr. Salman Naqvi, an ardent volunteer in the front line himself, introduced Mr. Chip Duncan, an established director, writer and producer, not to say the least, Mr Duncan is a recipient of multiple EMI awards, who had also accompanied Dr. Naqvi to Pakistan along with Sir Ben Kingsley to shoot a documentary—Dr. Naqvi has been the driving force behind this purposeful initiative and is responsible for orchestrating the plan.
The evening was also graced by the renowned Sir Ben Kingsley, whose distinguished role as Gandhi, in the movie “Gandhi” and as the Ex Iranian Officer in the movie “House of Sand and Fog”, just to name a couple of his outstanding performances. Sir Ben Kingsley expressed his deep concern for the tragedy that has struck our world and conveyed some very worthy messages in his sophisticated and warm sentiments. He mentioned that he sees himself as a “bridge”, and in the greater scheme of things “an actor, artist or poet has a place of a bridge builder” one who can “bridge the gap between our hearts and the world, and bridge the gap between the Islamic and non Islamic worlds—a gap that has been exasperated into a wound by the ruthless and unthinking politicians”. “So—the bridge builder must bring the two worlds face to face with one another”.
He also went on to mention that ‘empathy’ is an act and cannot and should not be discriminated. Sir Ben Kingsley quoted the phrase “Charity begins at home” the literal meaning of which is not as we commonly perceive “to help those who are your own and ignore the rest of the world”, the real interpretation of the phrase, as per Sir Ben, is “practicing small but manageable acts of charity within the scope of your daily life, exploring little acts of courtesy, kindness and generosity—to the guy who carries your luggage at the airport—to the lady who cleans your house—to the guy who drives the taxi—to the guy who does your gardening”. “If we practice daily form of empathy, and if we embrace and nurture those who are suffering, the Cosmos will echo that act of empathy, and it will come right back to us”. Few if any could have delivered this inspirational message so eloquently.
The event then progressed by Dr. Farshad Rastegar and Dr. Salman Naqvi presenting Sir Ben Kingsley and Mr. Chip Duncan with exquisite paintings by our very own local artist, Ms. Natasha Shoro.
This heart-warming evening saw a great show of people’s generosity. The event exceeded its target: $102,000 was collected and still growing—thanks to those compassionate hearts. It seems we all got it! – This is not a one-time affair—we must go on as the Cosmos is receiving this positive energy and echoing it right back at us—and those bridges are being built with every breath, heartbeat and act of kindness!



Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 . All Rights Reserved.