The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

Holy Smoke's Credit: MacKinzie Neal

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

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.