Talking to Mana Shetty can be as warm as drinking hot chocolate on a rainy day. Fixtures in Mumbai’s Page 3 circuit, Mana and actor-producer-restaurateur husband Suniel Shetty complement each other in reaching out to the needy.
In Chennai with Araaish, a shopping fest, to raise funds for Save The Children India, a non-profit organisation founded by Mana’s mother Vipula Kadri, Mana explains how small initiatives can make a big difference in the lives of the deprived. “Save The Children India (STCI) was started in a small way in 1988 to support and empower underprivileged women and children by providing healthcare, vocational training and education. Today, nearly two lakh children from Mumbai slums have benefitted from the programmes undertaken by STCI. We even run a school for 250 special children.”
Araaish, a tribute to the STCI founder, is an extension of her concept to bring glamour and giving together. It’s for stylish people with a big heart! At Araaish, you can shop to bring about change. All you have to do is loosen your fashionable purse strings and help the needy get a grip on their lives. “The fact is that women in affluent circles are keen on helping. But they are just not aware of the right channel. Events such as this open up an avenue for them to help others — at the same time, take home something to treasure!” says Mana, of the one-day shopping festival featuring designer labels, held in association with Taj Mount Road on Monday.
“It’s a great advantage to be in the social circuit. We have the contacts. So, all it takes is a little effort to get people together and take forward a cause. That’s what we at Araaish are doing. After my mother, who has done so much to support children from the slums, we did not want to let her dream die.”
So, Mana and her siblings, along with Suniel, decided to keep Save The Children India alive. “Through Araaish, which means ‘decorate’, we raise money to bring beauty in the lives of the poor. There are thousands of footfalls that happen when we take the exhibition to different metros. Now, we have initiated vocational training programmes, and also run an early intervention centre for children with special needs.”
Flush with the success of “Red Alert”, a film on naxals, at festival circles, Suniel, who also won the Best Actor Award at the South Asian International Film Festival, New York, says: “STCI is very close to my heart. I’m emotionally attached to the cause since it concerns children.”