BY BRIDGET AYMAR
A new student group is helping women living on the other side of the planet discover a renewed passion for life. Jazba (a Hindi-Urdu word meaning “passion”) partners with India-based non-profit Women in Need to help rehabilitate South Asian women suffering from HIV/AIDS and mental illness, and grappling with the devastating aftermath of sexual assault.
In its first year, the group donated $3,000 to cover the cost of medicines for 4,500 women. And it’s all thanks to the power of dance.
Among other fundraising activities, Jazba hosts a flagship Bollywood Fusion Dance Competition that attracts top teams from across the country. Its founders established the competition to share their long-held passion for dance with the University of Minnesota community.
“From the age of five, dance has been a part of my life. When I came to the University, I realized that people here didn’t know what Bollywood Fusion dance was, and they didn’t know how competitive this activity was across the country,” says Anish Chandak, ’17 BSB, a co-founder of Jazba. “So we decided to try to spark peoples’ interest—that’s where the idea for the competition came from.”
The second-annual Jazba competition hosted 10 teams that performed for an audience of 2,200 students and community members at Northrop Auditorium in February. The event has earned national acclaim, with competing teams hailing from cities across the United States.
For the first time this year, Jazba received sponsor support from businesses that include 3M and Travelers, which allowed the student group to donate more money to Women in Need. It intends to exceed its $10,000 fundraising goal by the end of this year. And as Chandak saw firsthand on a recent excursion to India, every dollar has huge impact.
Jazba was formed by Chandak (bottom photo, at right), Harshil Chahal, ’17 BSB; Shikha Raval, ’16 BSB; and Neeral Mehta, ’17 BSB. It now includes students from across the University.