Balo USA, a Wallingford-based nonprofit, is having its first in-person party Friday, October 21st from 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm at OmCulture to raise money in support of its school and programs in Kolkata, India.
I spoke with founder and friend, Anne Leache, about this wonderful, grassroots organization. In 2005, Anne was volunteering with Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity (which warrants a separate conversation and blog post!). There she met fellow volunteer, Elisabetta (Betta) Ravaioli, an Italian lawyer. The following year Betta returned to India, committed to working further with orphaned and impoverished children. She started Balo, a small school for children in a few rented rooms. The poorest children in the slums are provided an English language education with all needed uniforms, supplies and meals.
While starting her own family and her career as a teacher, Anne maintained her connection with Betta and watched the Balo school program grow. Through her thoughtful, meticulous leadership, Betta had made many personal friends of Balo in the United States and beyond. In 2015, Anne helped further connect these friends by launching Balo USA, a non-profit with the mission of supporting Balo financially. Friends and neighbors in Wallingford have joined the board and supported fundraising.
This global community is seeing the fruit of their sowing. The school now supports 350 children and is welcoming older children through grade 12. Instead of rented rooms, Balo was able to purchase a portion of a building entirely dedicated to the school. The organization is reaching out to support women in the community through education and empowerment projects including sewing, hairdressing and even microloans.
It’s amazing learning how far the American dollar goes in India.
According to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, the United States spends an average of $15,621 per student for a public education every year. For a private, English language immersion school that serves students thoroughly screened as the poorest in the slums, Balo spends $650 annually per student. Providing these children with an education that prepares them to enter the university while teaching them English, gives them a life full of opportunities that contribute to our global community.
I was also impressed to learn that Balo USA dedicates 100% of its donations to the work in India. Anne and the other volunteers contribute their own resources to do the rest, including trips to volunteer at the school.
I am reminded now of Mother Teresa’s quote, “There are no great things, only small things with great love.” So, here’s your chance:
Enjoy an amazing evening out with Indian food, specialty drinks, and dancing while bringing joy to the world. For the mind-blowing price of $50, you can attend the Balo Bash at Om Culture on Friday, October 21st from 7:00pm-10:00pm. Tickets on sale now and prices go up October 11 (but don’t let that stop you):
In addition to food, drinks, and dancing, it is going to be a hoot with a:
- Cake Derby – yup, you can win a WHOLE cake to eat or take home
- WINNER TAKES ALL Wine Raffle – Hope you have a big trunk!
- Silent Auction with donations from shops on 45th and gorgeous delights imported from our seamstresses in India. Everything is priced to sell with Buy Now prices as low as $2.
Hope to see you there! For more information and pictures, check out this piece that aired on King 5 this weekend.