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Cricket legends, Bollywood icons and business leaders kick start Habitat for Humanity fund-raising drive for India

July 21, 2011

London, 18 July 2011 – England and Indian cricketing legends, Bollywood stars and business leaders were united today at a fundraising dinner hosted by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, current captain of India’s World-Cup-winning cricket team, and Mrs. Rajashree Birla, Director of Aditya Birla Group, for Habitat for Humanity and the M.S. Dhoni Charitable Foundation, ‘Winning Ways, today for tomorrow’.

At the colourful ‘East Meet West’ event at Hilton Park Lane Hotel, cricket stars Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Yuvraj Singh, Courtney Walsh, Farokh Engineer, Alec Steward, Harbhajan Singh, together with Bollywood icons, Ranganathan ‘Maddy’ Madhavan, Jacqueline Fernandez , Omi Vaidya and ex-cricketer and commentator, Ravi Shastri, mixed with high-profile business leaders to enjoy dinner and take part in a charity auction.

“I want to provide the right environment for young people, and then there will be no reason why they can’t flourish” said M. S. Dhoni, as he addressed a room of a thousand people.

The most popular item sold in the charity auction at the dinner was a painting by Sacha Jafri, which sold for £260,000 (US$ 419,000 / INR18.6m). This was closely followed by the cricket bat used by M. S. Dhoni in the World Cup Final, and signed by the sportsman himself, that went for £100,000 (US$161,000 / INR7m).

Other popular items included an original copy of the script of Bollywood blockbuster 3 Idiots signed by the director and cast; a chance to spend a day on the set of forthcoming film, Teri Meri Kahani, starring Shahid Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra; John Abraham’s biker jacket and helmet, signed and framed by the Bollywood actor; and a special coaching session with M. S. Dhoni at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London. Both charities, Habitat for Humanity and the M. S. Dhoni Foundation, will equally benefit from the auction and ticket sales.

The ‘East Meets West’ event was the grand finale of events taking place over the last two days to launch Habitat for Humanity’s IndiaBUILDS campaign in Great Britain, a new fundraising drive to support families currently living in substandard houses in India.

Mrs. Rajashree Birla said: “A home is a primary need for every person. It transcends being just a shelter, as it represents the opportunity to unleash potential. A house is the focal point around which families grow and communities thrive.”

Earlier today, guests gathered for a high tea reception at The Orangery in Kensington Palace with the Duke of Gloucester, Royal Patron of Habitat for Humanity Great Britain, and yesterday (Sunday 17 July), supporters took part in a ‘mock build’ at London Business School, laying symbolic bricks and tiles to build a house representing the 100,000 homes hoped to be built in India by 2015.

At this ‘Build a Home – Brick by Brick’ event, Bollywood star Ranganathan ‘Maddy’ Madhavan shared his reasons for supporting Habitat for Humanity and the IndiaBUILDs campaign: “When I was younger, I had these noble aspirations and believed I had the power to make a difference. I have been lucky enough to see the world but still only felt I was half the man I wanted to be. This is why I support Habitat for Humanity. I want to be that person to make a change. The easiest way to support is by writing a cheque, but I also encourage others to volunteer and fulfill that desire to make a difference.”

To donate to IndiaBUILDS, please visit www.indiabuilds.org.uk

About Habitat for Humanity International
Habitat for Humanity International is a global non-government organization that welcomes to its work all people dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing. Since its founding in 1976, Habitat has built, rehabilitated, repaired or improved more than 400,000 houses worldwide, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than 2 million people. Find out more at www.habitateurope.org