On 12 May 2012, Shiva Hotels welcomed guests to The New Horizon Ball – an exciting evening humbly dedicated to making a difference. Rishi Sachdev, Director of Shiva Hotels, said he “felt honoured to be partnering with Hilton Worldwide and hosting an event which is about fighting against the horrific industry…child trafficking.”
The event allowed guests to experience the best in live entertainment, a culinary extravaganza and most importantly, an opportunity to make a real and lasting difference to children’s lives. Shiva Foundation, recently founded by Meenal and Rishi Sachdev, has been working closely with Hilton in the Community Foundation and iPartner India to help fight against future abuses against children, as well as supporting those who have already suffered, both in India and in the UK. The proceeds of the evening were distributed to those involved in the prevention, rescue and rehabilitation of victims, including Prajwala (Hyderabad), Gram Niyojan Kendra (Rajasthan), Odanadi (Mysore), Apran (Mumbai) and Helen Bamber Foundation (London).
The evening’s keynote speaker, Sunitha Krishnan is feared by traffickers and seen as a beacon of hope for young victims of abuse. It is difficult to feel anything but awe in her presence but it was her powerful speech that was most moving. Sunitha sparked India’s anti-trafficking movement by courageously refusing to be silenced. She coordinates and plans midnight raids on brothels with the help of government agencies, the police and legal departments. She has forged NGO-corporate partnerships with companies like Amul India, the Taj Group and Heritage Hospitals to find jobs for rehabilitated women. In collaboration with UN agencies and other NGOs, she established printing and furniture shops for women survivors and works closely with the government to define anti-trafficking policy. Sunitha has been beaten up 14 times and is the the target of acid attacks and regular death threats. When asked what keeps her going, she does not hesitate – “I live for the smile of the children, I live for the hope in their eyes.”
The event was glam – with champagne and canapes, the Tarang Orchestra, a four course meal and performances by the Jersey Boys and Escala – but it was the issue itself that brought so many people to the Hilton London Heathrow Aiport Terminal 5 that evening. The auction, raffle draw and donations for the night allowed Shiva Foundation to donate £180,000 and inspired many others with resources to do something more too.