Bermuda Environmental Alliance gets its message across with a touch of Bollywood

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The desire for a more environmentally friendly future expressed through the hopes of young people and the interconnectivity of the world, were two abiding sentiments of the Bermuda Environmental Alliance's 'Indian Night for Planet Earth'.

A performance of the Bollywood 'Jai Ho' dance routine from the hit movie 'Slumdog Millionaire' provided a fitting finale to the Indian-themed evening at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess Hotel.

But earlier during the private gala event, the first major fundraising event for the organisation, a spotlight was also turned on three young girls who, in their own ways, reflected the message the Bermuda Environmental Alliance (BEA) was sending out.

  • Dancers from the Sabor Dance School perform the 'Jai Ho' dance routine from the hit film 'Slumdog Millionaire' during the Bermuda Environmental Alliance's gala event.

    Dancers from the Sabor Dance School perform the 'Jai Ho' dance routine from the hit film 'Slumdog Millionaire' during the Bermuda Environmental Alliance's gala event.

  • BEA directors (from the left): David Ezekiel, Sangita Iyer, John Wight, Tracey Gibbons and Norman Mastalir.

    BEA directors (from the left): David Ezekiel, Sangita Iyer, John Wight, Tracey Gibbons and Norman Mastalir.

  • Gala dinner guests are led through the 'Jai Ho' dance routine under guidance from Sabor Dance School's Mirabelle d'Chuna.

    Gala dinner guests are led through the 'Jai Ho' dance routine under guidance from Sabor Dance School's Mirabelle d'Chuna.

  • Nine-year-old Riya Bangera performs a solo dance at the start of the BEA's Indian Night for Planet Earth gala.

    Nine-year-old Riya Bangera performs a solo dance at the start of the BEA's Indian Night for Planet Earth gala.

  • BEA founding executive director Sangita Iyer (far right) with the performers from the Sabor Dance School who performed the dance routine 'Jai Ho' from the film 'Slumdog Millionaire'. At the front is dance teacher Mirabelle d'Chuna (left) and nine-year-old Riya Bangera.

    BEA founding executive director Sangita Iyer (far right) with the performers from the Sabor Dance School who performed the dance routine 'Jai Ho' from the film 'Slumdog Millionaire'. At the front is dance teacher Mirabelle d'Chuna (left) and nine-year-old Riya Bangera.


The desire for a more environmentally friendly future expressed through the hopes of young people and the interconnectivity of the world, were two abiding sentiments of the Bermuda Environmental Alliance's 'Indian Night for Planet Earth'.

A performance of the Bollywood 'Jai Ho' dance routine from the hit movie 'Slumdog Millionaire' provided a fitting finale to the Indian-themed evening at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess Hotel.

But earlier during the private gala event, the first major fundraising event for the organisation, a spotlight was also turned on three young girls who, in their own ways, reflected the message the Bermuda Environmental Alliance (BEA) was sending out.

First was nine-year-old Riya Bangera, dressed in traditional Indian attire, who performed a solo opening dance for the 150 or so attendees as way of a taster for the dancing spectacle to come.

Soon afterwards the BEA's India-born founding executive director Sangita Iyer spoke of an encounter a few days earlier in which she spoke with a young girl, Charlotte Dinsmore, who sat next to her during a plane journey to Bermuda.

Ms Iyer learned from the seven-year-old how she had encouraged her parents to get serious about recycling and composting after observing her mother putting old vegetable scraps straight into the trash.

While chatting on the plane Charlotte also told her that she had been doing research on whales for the past two years.

"I was touched by some of the things she knew about whales," Ms Iyer told the gala audience.

"Charlotte is going to be posting blogs on our website."

The third youngster introduced during the evening was nine-year-old Kayley Gibbons. Not only is she a friend of Charlotte, but she is also the daughter of BEA fundraising team member Tracey Gibbons. Kayley will also be posting environmental-themed blogs on the BEA's website (www. bermuda-bea.org).

A widely diverse cross-section of Bermuda residents attended the gala, from past and present politicians and union leaders, to international business chiefs, teachers, businesspeople, educators, parents and neighbours.

Many people turned up wearing traditional Indian attire, even if they had no connection with India. Attendees were treated to Indian cuisine and a viewing of the four-part 'Bermuda: Nature's Jewel' miniseries produced by the BEA and shown recently on Discovery Channel Canada.

The miniseries featured the water catchment technology of Bermuda roofs, the ecological fragility of the Island's underwater caves, biofuel research and the story of the cahows. It is intended the shows will be distributed to schools as a teaching aid.

BEA chairman David Ezekiel said: "BEA has been in existence for eight months and it has been a success story in its short lifespan. We have had a lot of support from individuals and companies.

"One of the missions of the BEA is to represent other environmental charities on the Island. Going into the schools is another of our main missions."

He said the miniseries had been shown on Discovery Channel Canada to a potential audience of 2.5 million people, and the shows would soon evolve into half-hour episodes for local television.

Mr. Ezekiel gave thanks to business people and individuals who had given time and support to the BEA including, amongst others, Bank of Bermuda CEO Phil Butterfield, BF&M chief John Wight, Fairmont Hotels Bermuda's Norman Mastalir and Jon Crellin, and Melvyn Bassett.

The Sabor Dance School, led by dance teacher Mirabelle d'Cunha, performed the climax to the evening with recreation of the 'Jai Ho' dance from the movie 'Slumdog Millionaire'. And the dancing continued as guests were invited to join in and learn the dance themselves.

Reflecting on the Indian theme of the evening, Ms Iyer said: "India houses 1.14 billion people, that is more than one-sixth of the people around the world, also India is evolving by leaps and bounds when it comes to implementing alternative energy sources.

"In southern India you'll find windmills stretching across the landscape for miles and even villages use sun to harness solar energy. And of course one of the other reasons is that British love the Indian culture and food and Bermuda being a British territory we knew more people would be drawn to the gala.

"The evening was spectacular and being the first gala so many more people attended the evening than we anticipated. We are truly grateful for the dancers from Sabor Dance School who volunteered their time and talents and practiced for numerous hours on their time.

"It was also wonderful to see the Bermuda Music School students perform with so much enthusiasm and they certainly added the island touch to the gala.

"We are also truly grateful to the Fairmont team for helping us put on such an amazing show by preparing the most exotic Indian meal, and adding Indian decor to the ballroom. The cooks and Chef George Mulbacher as well as the Catering Director Hal Browne went out of their way to help us out.

"It was absolutely wonderful to see our guests very much in tune with Indian culture I mean I never expected (former Minister) Arthur Hodgson and (current MP) Michael Scott to dress in Indian outfits, nor so many women to be dressed in Indian saris, decked up for the event. It added so much more authenticity to the gala."

She added: "But the most gratifying thing personally was to see so many people come out on a week night for a sneak preview of the miniseries Bermuda Nature's Jewel. Many people are already asking if the DVDs would be available to the public and if so when. At this stage we're still working on a few more projects and it may be another year before we compile a DVD. Because ultimately the entire gala was about creating environmental awareness and I think we achieved what we set out to do."

Mr. Ezekiel said: "It went fantastically well. People learned about the environment and what the BEA is doing and is going to do. We achieved what we wanted to achieve for a first event of this type."

BEA director and fundraiser Tracey Gibbons said was particularly pleased to see youngsters being encouraged to learn with the BEA, noting that a parent had sponsored an entire table at the gala for the Somersfield Academy.

"It was really nice to see so many of the teachers here. There is a real mix of people. We have hit a need."

She feels the BEA is a particularly important stepping stone for teaching and encouraging young people to appreciate how precious the Island's environment is and how they can help safeguard it. And once they have that appreciation, they are more likely to become involved with other environmental organisations working on the Island.

"The BEA can get the children interested early and instill in them the need to take responsibility to protect the environment," she said.

l For further information on the Bermuda Environmental Alliance, visit the website: www.bermuda-bea.org

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