“Glitter, glamour and gratitude.” These are the words Samia Khan and Bina Rampuria use to describe their forthcoming charity ball, the Gala Of Light 2019, a Deepavali celebration that will take place on 4 Oct at Marina Bay Sands. The two friends are holding the soirée – comprising a fashion show, dinner, a live auction of specially curated experiences and an after-party featuring Bollywood DJ Suketu – to raise funds and awareness for two charities close to their hearts.
“We tend to forget that even in a progressive nation such as Singapore, there is an underprivileged segment of society that needs support,” says Samia, co-founder of the gala, which is supported by co-sponsors Tekka Place and Eurokars Group. “We want to raise more awareness and encourage the spirit of giving during Deepavali.”
The duo have chosen to lend their support to Beyond Social Services (BSS) and Compassion Fund, two charities dedicated to helping vulnerable children and youths. Set up in 1969 to support those who had been displaced by the Bukit Ho Swee fires, BSS (it was then known as the Bukit Ho Swee Community Service Project) now works with children and youths from less-privileged backgrounds, with a mission to help them break the cycle of poverty. It stays in touch with beneficiaries until they reach adulthood to ensure they find their footing.
“The young people we work with are resilient and, like the rest of us, they have dreams and aspirations. Delinquent behaviour is by no means an inherent trait. Rather, it’s a product of the environment. With appropriate support from the community, many will be able to move beyond their unfortunate circumstances,” explains Gerard Ee, Executive Director at BSS.
Compassion Fund, meanwhile, focuses on children whose families are thrown into crisis in the wake of an accident, death or major illness to the breadwinner. “When families are struck by the breadwinner’s loss of income, the resultant emotional trauma and financial hardship may stress the family beyond its limits,” shares Kay Iswaran, Chairperson of Compassion Fund. “Our organisation is small, so we’re able to respond quickly to help such families. We provide aid during and after the crisis period, with the goal of keeping children in school so they can realise their potential.”
While they appreciate the financial contributions, both Ee and Iswaran point out that the opportunity to raise awareness for their respective charity’s causes is just as important. “Deepavali is a festival that celebrates the triumph of light over darkness,” says Ee. “And I’m sure the gala will also inspire guests to share their light with others.”
“The Gala of Light is a wonderful platform for us to share our work,” adds Iswaran. “Hopefully, we can capitalise on the opportunity it provides to expand our pool of supporters.”
Attendees to the gala – which will include S. Iswaran, Minister for Communications and Information, as the guest of honour – can expect an evening of glitz and glamour, thanks to a fashion show by famed Indian designer Anita Dongre, who has dressed the likes of Kate Middleton and Hillary Clinton.
“We have always been inspired by creativity,” Samia shares. “Therefore, for this gala, we decided to use fashion as a vehicle to inspire people to give back to society.” The pair chose to work with Dongre not only because of her stunning designs, but also her generous spirit. “Her philanthropic work is celebrated as much as her artistry,” Samia adds.
Dongre’s fashion house has worked with rural artisans in the remote villages of India, and has played a part in setting up training centres to equip women with the essential skills needed to become financially independent. At the gala, Dongre will be showcasing her exuberant Autumn/Winter 2019 collection christened Jaipur Love, which is inspired by the historic Indian city. “Singapore has always shown the House of Anita Dongre so much love. We’re delighted to be able to support bss and Compassion Fund on this special evening,” says the designer, who will be holding a trunk show the day after the Gala Of Light.
Samia and Bina, who aim to make the ball an annual affair, are hoping to light a lamp of hope for the younger generation. “Children and the youth are the future of every community and country,” says Bina. “By ensuring that they have stable lives and assisting with their education, we can build a better future for them and for Singapore.”
“Deepavali is a festival that celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, and I’m sure the Gala Of Light will also inspire guests to share their light with others.”