Authors Dr. Abraham Verghese and Annie Lamott headline Atherton garden party in support of GAIA

by Linda Hubbard on April 14, 2012

Local residents are central to an afternoon garden party that will feature authors Dr. Abraham Verghese and Anne Lamott in support of the non-profit Global AIDS Interfaith Alliance to be held at an Atherton home on Sunday, April 29.

“We are glad to be able to introduce GAIA’s work to more Peninsula residents this year by holding our major fundraiser in Atherton,” said Marty Arscott, who serves as the organization’s Board Chair and is also an Atherton resident.  “While GAIA’s headquarters is in Marin County, individual and foundation support for our programs is nationwide and crucial to our financial strength, bringing 95% of the funding for GAIA’s programs. These include over 200 individuals, foundations and congregations on the Peninsula.”

Verghese (photo above), who is on the faculty of Stanford University School of Medicine and is the author of the best selling novel Cutting for Stones, and Lamott (photo below), known for her humorous musings on life and parenthood in a series of non-fiction books, will be joined by Malawian nursing scholar Kaboni Gondwe, a recipient of GAIA’s nursing scholarship program and current Fulbright Scholar. Guests will enjoy gourmet appetizers by Paradise Foods and wine provided by Kingston Vineyards. Baba Ken Okulolu and the Nigerian Brothers will perform.

Annie Lamott“I heard about GAIA and how they were sponsoring women in their education,” Kaboni said. “I promised them that with their assistance, I was going to make them proud, just as much as they made me proud of myself. GAIA funded the rest of my training and I graduated with distinction. It was a very happy moment for me because I accomplished something that seemed absolutely impossible.”

GAIA works in the Southern African country of Malawi to feed, clothe, and educate AIDS orphans, empower village women, provide HIV testing, and build healthcare capacity. The organization was founded in 2000 by The Rev. Dr. William Rankin and UCSF neurosurgeon Dr. Charles Wilson. In 2011 Dr. Rankin retired and was succeeded by current CEO Todd Schafer.

“The manageable size of GAIA and its focused approach on healthcare-related work has considerable appeal to individuals and families drawn to making a real difference in the lives of thousands of people in Malawi, which is one of the poorest countries in the world and suffering from one of the higher rates of HIV/AIDS,” said Marty. “It is a country where there is literally no safety net whatsoever for its 15 million residents, 85% of whom live in remote villages with no modern infrastructure.” (InMenlo featured a story of Marty’s visit to Malawi in 2011.)

Tickets to the garden party event can be purchased online.

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