On Saturday, September 24, 2016, Desh Videsh Media Group hosted the 2nd Annual Community Leader Awards at the Sawgrass Inn & Conference Center. The local community came together for an evening of speeches, dinner, and music creating an atmosphere that was both festive and
Over 23 years ago, Desh-Videsh began with a simple idea. Our team believed in a professional, inclusive magazine for Indians, Pakistanis, and Indo-Caribbeans that would offer insight into our culture and guidance for our youth and focus on the positives of our community. A lot has changed over the years, but those hallmarks resonate as strongly as ever.
The DVMG Community Leader Awards are a continuation of those principles and represent a celebration of the accomplishments of individuals who embody a passion for and a drive to develop the positives o f their community. Awardees are all active participants in the community helping bring spiritual and cultural guidance for our youth locally as well as giving back to communities in our native countries.
Master of Ceremony:
Photographer: DJ: Stage Decor: Catering:
Sawgrass Inn and Conference Center
Jacqueline Marie Photography
Picture Perfect Events LLC
Palace Indian Cuisine and Chowpatty
2016 Community Leader Award Recipients
Founder of the non-profit No More Tears, Somy Ali has been an advocate for victims of human trafficking and domestic abuse for many years. An immigrant from Karachi, Pakistan, Somy came to the U.S. in 1987 to escape an unstable home and pursue education. Somy studied psychology and documentary filmmaking, and graduated from the New York Film Academy in 2003. Her first documentary, “I Can Survive”, addressed the plight of a Pakistani rape victim, and furthered Somy’s drive to help victims of abuse.
Since 2006, No More Tears has rescued over 500 adult victims and 2,100 abused children. In addition to declining a salary, Somy dedicates her personal savings to rescuing victims. Somy has been awarded numerous times for her community involvement and volunteer efforts, including the Women of Peace award in 2010 and Broward County Women’s Hall of Fame Rising Star award in 2014.
Ramola Motwani was born in Sukkur, Pakistan and completed her education in India. In addition to a law degree from the Government Law College of Bombay, Ramola gained culinary and fine art experience before moving to the U.S. She began a career in retail and import business with her late husband, Ramesh Motwani, which eventually expanded to real estate and hotels.
Ramola became involved with the South Florida Hindu Temple and the local Sindhi community as an active leader and volunteer. She has received many awards, including the March of Dimes Woman of Distinction award, Woman’s Council award, and many more.
Abhijit S. Pandya
Dr. Abhijit S. Pandya is an active supporter of the community and an education professional with 30 years of experience in South Florida. As an FAU professor and administrator, he has mentored several prominent young professionals of Indian heritage. As a clinical researcher he has served the local community through clinical trials, and along with his clinician partners, he has used their medical practice as a means to help community youth achieve their goals in pursuing studies in the field of medicine. Dr. Pandya’s work is motivated by the legacy that his countless students will leave behind for the community.
Dr. Vinod Patel
Dr. Patel is a visionary and leader of the South Florida community. He is a Founding Trustee the South Florida Hindu Temple and the Chair Person of the construction committee, and one of the founding members of Indian Religious and Cultural Center. Dr. Patel works tirelessly even today to ensure smooth operation of temple functions and also guides and mentors the young, future leaders of the community.
Dr. Vinod Patel graduated from the Seth G S Medical College, University of Mumbai, India in 1970 and moved to Florida for his Fellowship at University of Miami. In the early eighties, when BAPS needed help to host H.H. Pramukh Swami in South Florida, Dr .Patel and his wife Ranjan Patel opened their home, and many saints and sages have visited their home since.
Dr. Patel and Ranjanben continue to support the Hindu community and many meaningful Hindu projects like Ekal Vidyalay, Hindu American Foundation and Vatsalya Gram. Dr. Patel, a born leader and community man, also enjoys spending time with his two children, Amit and Bhavini, their spouses, and his four grandchildren.
Vijay Persad has been the Chairman of the Board and President of the Shiva Mandir for several years, where he and his family have been active leaders and volunteers since 1991. As an immigrant from Trinidad, Vijay has worked closely with the Caribbean Hindu community and is motivated by the dedication of the Shiva Mandir members.
Vijay came to the U.S. in 1975 to study accounting at the University of Texas and continued his management career with Albertsons. Motivated by his family’s support, he was elected to the mandir’s Board of Directors as Treasurer, and eventually became an integral leader in its community. Vijay and Sati are blessed with two grandsons, Niranjan and Vinayak, and continue to volunteer with many community projects.
Mohammad Shakir was born in Pakistan and has been a professional, peace activist, and active volunteer in South Florida for the past 47 years. Presently, he is the Executive Director of the Asian American Advisory Board in Miami Dade, founder of the NUR Center for women and children, and co-founder of the women’s support organization SAHARA. Mohammad is a veteran of the U.S. Army, drafted in 1973. He is an alumni of the U.S. Army War College, and as a member of the U.S. State Department sponsored delegation, visited Egypt in 2009 to study religion in public life. Mohammad is married to Dr. Shakida, and is blessed with two daughters and five granddaughters.