Paris to NYC to New Delhi – A Dinner For A Cause: Sheela
This story is very complex, it is about six girls from France and from India, Sheela, Monica, Ria, Aleth, Camille and Eleonore. And I am not sure whether to begin in Paris, in New York, in New Delhi or even in Panipat, a little city north of New Delhi for those of you who do not know it. And unfortunately one part of this journey, that takes us across the whole world, is a very sad story which makes things even more difficult to write – but one must write about it. To be able to put this in the context of #ADinnerForACause and of #MLNS is only a small relief, but it helps to see that there are people out there that care.
Maybe we should start in Europe, in the beautiful capital of France, Paris, the so-called “city of love”. There we meet three French, Parisian girls, Aleth Mandula, Camille d’Harcourt and Elenore Bechau La Fonta. Three friends from childhood that all share a common interest, they love traveling the world, meeting new people, learning about new cultures and customs.
Eventually they learnt that someone living in Paris is pretty well off compared to other places in the world. And what they learned is that one can do things to help. And even if it seems little, it might be a big thing for someone else, be it handing out food to homeless and hungry people or meet up with elderly and lonesome ones.
Or organizing charity dinners called “A Dinner For A Cause” for people or organizations that are in need of money. The three girls, by chance reunited in New York for their careers, started this project early 2015, right after the horrible #JeSuisCharlie attacks in January 2015 when terrorists killed several journalists in Paris as they did not like their articles and drawings.
When WomenNow.in asked the girls about the origin of their initiative they told us: “When we arrived in NY last summer we really wanted to do something, to create something: an experience to share our 2 passions love of art and art de vivre. Our idea was to gather people around an artistic culinary and meaningful experience. The first dinner was born after the #Jesuischarlie attacks. Being far from Paris, it was our way to participate in this big movement of solidarity and to support freedom of press and multiculturalism. We then thought about a second dinner. When we then met Monica Singh, a very courageous survivor of an acid attack, we decided to dedicate the funds of this second dinner to women related issues and gender inequality.”
WomenNow.in managed to be invited to the exclusive dinner. The location was the studio of female artist Jessica Mitrani which added a very arty note. This was topped by the fact that an Italian opera singer joined the dinner with an amazing performance from a piece by Haendel, Maria Teresa Meloni. Finally the girls, who got dressed by French designer Maud Heline, managed to get a Michelin starred chef, Eduard Frauneder, the youngest Michelin starred chef from Austria, to cook pro bono a delicious meal for about 30 attendants. Designers, artists, media executives, marketing bosses and students, a variety of people assembled for the cause. Sponsored by Champagne brand Veuve Cliquot, the French girls managed to create an amazing dinner experience.
But the real star of the dinner, which brings us via New York to New Delhi, was Monica Singh, Vice President of the foundation MakeLoveNotScars, an NGO founded by 22 year young Ria Sharma in order to help acid attack victims get their feet back into life. Monica, herself a victim of a horrible acid attack, starred not just because of her amazing dress tailored specifically for her by Sophie Theallet, one of the personal designers of Michelle Obama, Barack Obama’s wife.
She starred because she delivered an amazing speech about the great work MLNS has done so far and continues to do. And she starred also because she told us the moving story of 32 years old Sheela. A story that is very similar to hers. The story of young girl that was full of dreams, that loved someone, had a job, had hobbies, ideas, liked to dance and hang out with friends. Like Monica, like Ria, like Camille, Aleth and Eleonore. The story of a girl whose life got destroyed when a masked man threw acid in her face, a story you can listen to, you should watch here:
After we watched the video, after we heard the story, there was silence in the room. Can such a thing happen? Can we believe that people can be so cruel to hurt others that badly? Growing up in France, in London, in New York, it is hard to believe. And even in India, Mumbai or New Delhi such horrible attacks are often not noticed by the public. This is why we need to talk about it, to take action. We need to make a difference, we need to help, for example by donating money to Sheela’s campaign, or supporting the organization MakeLoveNotScars, Ria and Monica, to support the acid attack victims.
And this is why WomenNow.in is very grateful to Camille, Aleth and Eleonore who took their French love of art and art de vivre, brought it thousands of miles to New York to Monica so that they could altogether make a difference thousands of miles away in New Delhi and help Ria and Sheela, for a good cause!
Photo rights to A Dinner For A Cause – Check out photos here.