It may have been chilly outside, but there was plenty of warmth and good will to go around for a charitable cause at Smokey Joe’s this past weekend.
Saturday night, the popular campus bar and restaurant played host to a fundraiser for Penn’s chapter of the group Pratit International. The event, which featured performances by South Asian and Indian fusion dance group Penn Masti, a cappella group Off the Beat and Hindi fusion rock band Penn Karma, drew a crowd of about 40.
In less than two weeks, ten student members of Pratit — a nonprofit organization that aims to create local solutions to poverty in some of Southeast Asia’s most impoverished areas — will set off on a mission trip to the slums of Kolkata, India. The trip will run for two and a half weeks.
College junior Turja Chakrabarti, who founded Pratit International as a high school senior in 2007 and currently serves as its president, said the upcoming mission gives students an opportunity to gain real-world experience in critical, high-stake settings.
“I think this is one of those experiences where we’re able to directly apply what we’ve learned in the classroom to help societies and make a real impact,” said Chakrabarti, a Kolkata native.
Saturday night’s fundraiser collected a total of $200 for the organization’s future humanitarian efforts. Any donations that Pratit receives — no matter how small — can go a long way in helping to address the issue of international poverty, Chakrabarti said.
“We hear it a lot, but any amount of money really does help,” Chakrabarti said. “We’re able to buy a week’s worth of antibiotics for a child [in Kolkata] for just 75 cents.”
To date, Pratit International has sent two missions to the slums of Kolkata. Since its first trip, Pratit has developed a network of local Indian physicians, teachers and community leaders — all of whom pitch in when Penn students are back home in the United States. A group that was founded just three years ago, Pratit International now provides medical and educational assistance to more than 1,000 native Kolkatans, Chakrabarti said.
For College senior Ritwik Bhatia, co-director of Pratit at Penn, this sort of rapid growth speaks to the organization’s ability to make a difference.
“In West Philly, we see poverty around us on a daily basis,” Bhatia said. “After a trip with Pratit, our goal is to provide students with a newfound perspective on that poverty. Our goal is to provide an added motivation to take up the cause of social change.”Comments powered by Disqus
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