sunny.png
Monday November 28th, 2022 4:03PM

Q&A: Padma Lakshmi donates to provide equal opportunities

By The Associated Press

Padma Lakshmi's career has been filled with highlights, from creating the Hulu series “Taste the Nation” to hosting “Top Chef” to writing a best-selling memoir and numerous cookbooks. But one of her life's “seminal moments,” she says, was decidedly lower-profile.

When Lakshmi visited Shanti Bhavan, a boarding school in her home state of Tamil Nadu in India, in 2012 and found herself surrounded by 250 of its students, it was a moment that still moves her today.

“When I look at those children, I see my younger self,” she said. “I easily could have been born in a family like theirs."

Ajit George, Shanti Bhavan’s director of operations, said the school is grateful for Lakshmi’s personal donations and the corporate donations she seeks in return for her speeches. Her visit to the school still inspires the students, who come from households in poverty, earning less than $2 a day.

Shanti Bhavan, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary, accommodates about 300 students ages 4 to 22. Each year, the school selects an additional 28 students to replace graduates. But up to 500 children apply, George said, which is why they hope to open a second school in 2024 to meet the demand.

Lakshmi said she is committed to supporting Shanti Bhavan and its approach to education.

“I was very, very impressed — not only with the mission but with how they thought of this child and the student holistically as a human being,” she said. “They understand the culture shock of coming from some of the poorest families in that area to a school like that, being introduced to all the things that they’re introduced to can be psychologically jarring.”

Lakshmi spoke recently with The Associated Press about her philanthropy and her connection to Shanti Bhavan. The interview was edited for clarity and length.

___

Q: After your visit to Shanti Bhavan, the students looked to you as a role model.

A: I don’t really feel like I’m a role model. I just feel like I’m in a place where I can help them and I should help them because I can. It’s as simple as that. Whatever help or guidance they’ve gotten from me, whether it’s monetary or through my presence or efforts, I have gotten just as much, if not more, from those children. I’m getting tearful now just talking about it. It was such a wonderful experience. Shanti Bhavan is this beacon of light in a very dark time, and I’m so happy it exists. I’m very honored to be able to help.

Q: Does that sum up your approach to philanthropy?

A: If there’s one common denominator in all of the causes that I’ve been involved in, I would say it’s about equality and leveling the playing field, trying to give opportunity to those who don’t have as much opportunity. When I started my women’s health foundation, one of the reasons I did it is that I had gone through an illness and I had felt so held back because of something I couldn’t control. For me, making sure that young women and girls got screened for endometriosis and got the care they needed much earlier than I did meant that they would have an equal playing field with their male counterparts. It’s so much more difficult for a woman to advance in your career for a whole host of reasons than it is for a man. When you add a debilitating chronic gynecological disease to the mix, it compounds that.

Q: And with the ACLU?

A: I am an immigrant, and I really am thankful to this country for giving my mother the opportunity to build a new life for us when she had a very turbulent marriage. We were a middle class family where my mother had a college degree and was trained as a nurse so she could support herself and got a visa to come here because there was a shortage of medical professionals here in America in the ’70s. And my mother, in return, has given a lot to this country. So I feel that immigrants have a foundational role to play in the history of this country, and villainizing them, whether they come with a visa or as a refugee, is not the answer. We’re actually shooting ourselves in the foot as a nation. And so that’s why I got involved with the ACLU.

Q: What has inspired you to be so outspoken about these issues?

A: Once I got on the other side of my endometriosis and realized what life was like without it, I got angry. I just felt that nobody was speaking about this disease, and it’s also like that with immigration.

Q: And you believe that the Shanti Bhavan model of providing children the education and support needed to become well-rounded people is also worth fighting for.

A: It sounds corny, but really the world will be better. It’s not enough that I worry just about my child or my neighbor’s child. We’ve seen that with COVID, right? We are all connected, whether we want to be or not. So that’s how a child in Brazil or India or Nigeria who does not get an education, who does not also get a fair chance at life one day is involved. My child will grow up with those children in the same world, and they will still affect each other. From the human point of view, we weren’t all born the same, but we should all have the same shot at making the best versions of ourselves happen. I wish that there were Shanti Bhavans all over India and all over the global South where they are needed.

____

Associated Press coverage of philanthropy and nonprofits receives support through the AP’s collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely responsible for this content. For all of AP’s philanthropy coverage, visit https://apnews.com/hub/philanthropy.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, AP Health, AP Entertainment, APOnline Celebrity News, AP Business, AP Business - Corporate News, AP Health - Women's health
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
'Everything Everywhere All At Once' leads Spirit Award noms
The multiverse hopping adventure film “Everything Everywhere All At Once” led the nominations for the Film Independent Spirit Awards
10:48AM ( 11 minutes ago )
US stocks rise, remain unsteady ahead of Thanksgiving
Stocks rose on Wall Street, but trading remained unsteady ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. The S&P 500 rose 0.6% Tuesday morning
10:34AM ( 25 minutes ago )
'Stock up on blankets': Ukrainians brace for horrific winter
One of Ukraine's energy chiefs says rolling blackouts across Ukraine could continue through March
10:30AM ( 29 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
World Cup stunner: Saudi Arabia beats Messi's Argentina 2-1
Saudi Arabia scored one of the biggest World Cup upsets ever by beating an Argentina team led by Lionel Messi 2-1
10:07AM ( 52 minutes ago )
Slavery's ghost haunts cotton gin factory's transformation
A construction project in Alabama demonstrates the difficulty of telling complicated U.S. history in 2022
10:06AM ( 53 minutes ago )
A rail strike looms and impact on US economy could be broad
American consumers and nearly every industry will be affected if freight trains grind to a halt next month
9:14AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
China anti-virus curbs spur fears of global economic impact
The Chinese government says more than 253,000 coronavirus cases have been found in the past three weeks and the daily average is rising
6:49AM ( 4 hours ago )
Widow asks $55M from NCAA for ex-USC football player's death
An attorney for the widow of a former University of Southern California football player has asked a jury to award her more than $50 million in a lawsuit accusing the NCAA with failing to protect her husband from repetitive head trauma
9:57PM ( 13 hours ago )
China's Guangzhou locks down millions in 'zero-COVID' fight
The southern Chinese metropolis of Guangzhou has locked down its largest district as it tries to tamp down a major COVID-19 outbreak, suspending public transit and requiring residents to present a negative test if they want to leave their homes
8:18PM ( 14 hours ago )
AP Health
'Top Gun: Maverick' to land on Paramount+ in December
Seven months after it first arrived in theaters, “Top Gun: Maverick,” the year’s top film, will finally land on a streaming service
9:45AM ( 1 hour ago )
Iran media blames humiliating World Cup loss on protests
Iran was reeling Tuesday from the humiliation of starting the World Cup with a lopsided 6-2 loss against England in a match overshadowed by protests on and off the field
5:58AM ( 5 hours ago )
Kenzo, first Ugandan nominated for Grammy, had humble start
Kenzo has become the first singer from Uganda to earn a Grammy nomination
5:25AM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Entertainment
Amid Musk Twitter chaos, athletes & celebs cope just like us
Much like many of Twitter's hundreds of millions of users, professional sports stars and celebrities from the entertainment world are dealing with the chaos and uncertainty surrounding the microblogging app since Elon Musk took it over and began trimming the staff and making other changes
1:48PM ( 21 hours ago )
Chaka Khan tells stories through Apple's Time to Walk series
Chaka Khan wants people to walk with her while she tells inspirational stories
12:05PM ( 22 hours ago )
Disney announces ex-CEO Bob Iger to return for 2 years
The Walt Disney Company has announced that former CEO Bob Iger will return to head the company for two years in a move late Sunday that stunned the entertainment industry
12:47AM ( 1 day ago )
APOnline Celebrity News
Stocks are mostly higher in the early going on Wall Street
Stocks are mostly higher in the early going on Wall Street but trading remained unsteady ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. The S&P 500 was holding on to a gain of 0.2% in the first few minutes of trading Tuesday, but the tech-heavy Nasdaq turned lower and was down 0.4%
9:51AM ( 1 hour ago )
Dubai airport chief says passengers top pre-pandemic level
The CEO of Dubai International Airport says passenger numbers for the third quarter of 2022 have surpassed pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels
8:14AM ( 2 hours ago )
Bulgaria to let Russian oil refinery export despite EU ban
Bulgaria will allow a Black Sea refinery owned by a Russian oil company to keep operating and exporting oil products to the European Union until the end of 2024 despite warnings by Brussels that it is against the bloc’s sanctions
8:00AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Business
Prosecution rests in Trump Organization tax fraud case
Prosecutors in the Trump Organization’s criminal tax fraud trial have rested their case
5:26PM ( 17 hours ago )
Supreme Court takes Jack Daniel's case against dog toy maker
The Supreme Court says it will hear a dispute over a dog toy that got whiskey maker Jack Daniel’s barking mad
2:51PM ( 20 hours ago )
Judge orders Amazon to stop retaliations against organizers
A federal judge has ordered Amazon to stop retaliating against employees engaged in workplace activism
2:51PM ( 20 hours ago )
AP Business - Corporate News
Elizabeth Holmes gets more than 11 years for Theranos scam
Disgraced Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes has been sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for duping investors in the failed startup that promised to revolutionize blood testing but instead made her a symbol of Silicon Valley ambition that veered into deceit
8:58PM ( 3 days ago )
Opponents file lawsuit targeting medication abortions
Abortion opponents who helped challenge Roe v. Wade filed a lawsuit Friday that takes aim at medication abortions
6:40PM ( 3 days ago )
Holmes gets more than 11 years in prison for Theranos scam
A federal judge has sentenced disgraced Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes to more than 11 years in prison for duping investors in the failed startup that promised to revolutionize blood testing but instead made her a symbol of Silicon Valley’s culture of audacious self-promotion
5:46PM ( 3 days ago )
AP Health - Women's health
'Everything Everywhere All At Once' leads Spirit Award noms
The multiverse hopping adventure film “Everything Everywhere All At Once” led the nominations for the Film Independent Spirit Awards
10:48AM ( 11 minutes ago )
US stocks rise, remain unsteady ahead of Thanksgiving
Stocks rose on Wall Street, but trading remained unsteady ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. The S&P 500 rose 0.6% Tuesday morning
10:34AM ( 26 minutes ago )
'Stock up on blankets': Ukrainians brace for horrific winter
One of Ukraine's energy chiefs says rolling blackouts across Ukraine could continue through March
10:30AM ( 30 minutes ago )
Tunisia holds Denmark 0-0 as Arab teams impress at World Cup
Tunisia held European Championship semifinalist Denmark to a 0-0 draw at the World Cup
10:29AM ( 30 minutes ago )
Sweden arrests 2 suspected spies in predawn raid
Swedish authorities have arrested two people on suspicion of espionage in a pre-dawn operation in the Stockholm area
10:18AM ( 41 minutes ago )