DIL LA Hosts Annual Gala
By Adam Fakhri
Pictures by Faiz Ahmed

Glimpses of the DIL LA Fundraiser at the St Regis Monarch Beach Resort

Imagine a picture perfect oceanfront afternoon with classical sitar music, an elaborately presented gourmet Sunday brunch, and over $450,000 raised to support Developments in Literacy (DIL) schools for the under-privileged throughout Pakistan. This entrancing spectacle describes the DIL Los Angeles Chapter annual gala held on August 16, 2009 at the St Regis Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point, California. Amid the beautiful locale, DIL’s founding chapter brought together long time supporters of DIL who continue to support the combat against illiteracy in Pakistan.

After a soul-edifying recitation of the Holy Qur’an by Mrs. Leena Fakhri, over 350 guests were treated to an elegant, inspirational, and memorable afternoon emceed by Subhan Ali and Maliha Fakhri. The guests were briefed on how DIL’s mission of “educating children, empowering communities” was being implemented through their model school initiative, teacher training, curriculum development and newly constructed school projects.

The Consul General of Pakistan, Syed Ibne Abbas, addressed the audience to impress upon them how the government needs help from organizations like DIL to help Pakistan and saw the Los Angeles Pakistani community as one of the most generous in the world in giving back to their homeland. DIL's work has been recognized by many as shown in the powerful video presentation “Books Not Bombs” by Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times, which explained some of the improvements that were needed to the educational system in Pakistan and how DIL is using its methods to help improve the situation and bring long-term progress to Pakistan.

President of DIL Los Angeles, Mrs. Perveen Ali inspirationally addressed the crowd about the importance of education as a tool to bring sustained growth to Pakistan and exemplified this by real heartfelt stories of how DIL has changed the lives of children and women. She emphasized that despite the menacing threat of Taliban attacks, DIL’s 150 schools continue to operate and are actually growing and educating over 16,000 children each year. Thanking the hard work of all the members of DIL, especially its CEO Fiza Shah and CFO Hashmat Saeed, she attributed the success and growth of DIL to all its donors and supporters who continue to give each year.

DIL presented three awards during the program to individuals that have contributed generously to the DIL cause. Mariam Rashid, the first recipient, was recognized for her dedication, commitment and belief in DIL and Mrs. Ding-Jo Currie, Interim Vice Chancellor, Coast Community Colleges presented the award. Mariam Rashid praised the work of DIL and stressed that it was her family’s education and values while growing up in Pakistan that had allowed her family to succeed. She wishes to give back to Pakistan and she feels DIL is the best method as it provides long-term improvement to entire families.

The afternoon event was hosted by Dr. Meher Tabatabai and Syed Qaisar Madad who accepted the next award from DIL Founder and CEO Fiza Shah. Dr. Tabatabai asked the audience to dwell for a moment if their own children were to go to bed hungry and without access to education, and instead forced into child marriage and forced labor. As a mother of two daughters, she said her heart is broken seeing this happen to children in Pakistan and her family is honored to help DIL continue the fight to help end the cycle of poverty in Pakistan.

Drs. Khalid and Perveen Ahmed received their award for their contributions to DIL and for making a difference in the lives of the children of Pakistan. Dr. Khalid Ahmed reminisced on how his grandfather who served in the British Army in Ethiopia was deeply moved by the plight of the locals and started putting aside a third of his salary to help deserving Ethiopians, a third he sent home to his family in Pakistan and he lived frugally on the remainder. Dr. Khalid also followed this tradition by giving away half of what he received from his father to the needy, which instilled in him the importance of starting a cycle of giving back to society. His family had also taught him that success was only based on a solid education and it is our duty through organizations like DIL to instill a hunger for knowledge in the underprivileged of Pakistan.

The afternoon was highlighted with entertainment from well-known comedian Dan Nainan who had the audience in loud laughter and good spirits with his ethnic jokes and impersonations reflecting his Indo-Japanese background, which was uniquely weaved into some of the common experiences of the audience. In keeping with the spirit of the occasion, he announced that any proceeds from the sales of his CDs that day would be donated to DIL.

The reaction and generosity of the attendees highlighted their belief in the importance of education in Pakistan and how DIL’s programs are making inroads to help the fight against illiteracy. To learn about or donate to the DIL programs please visit www.dil.org.


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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