Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Sahaya supporters celebrate at documentary premiere

Koen Van Rompay, right, is interviewed in rural India by film director Andy Lauer and Josh Gibson, director of photography. Lauer will be present at Saturday's premiere of "Sahaya — Going Beyond" at International House, Davis. Courtesy photo

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What: Premiere of documentary “Sahaya — Going Beyond,” narrated by Jeremy Irons

When: 6-10 p.m. Saturday; the 20-minute documentary will be shown every hour

Where: International House, Davis, 10 College Park

Admission: Free


Community members are invited to the international premiere of the film “Sahaya – Going Beyond” on Saturday at International House, Davis, 10 College Park. Admission is free.

The 20-minute documentary, narrated by Academy Award-winning actor Jeremy Irons, highlights the work of the Davis-based nonprofit organization Sahaya International ( Sahaya International, which is run exclusively by volunteers, was founded in 1999 by Davis resident Koen Van Rompay, a UC Davis AIDS researcher, and his friends to provide help to grassroots organizations in developing countries.

The events will begin at 6 p.m., with the movie being shown every hour.

Since Sahaya’s inception, more than $1.5 million has been channeled to programs in India, Kenya, Philippines and Vietnam. Accomplishments include support programs for more than 220 orphans, construction of three schools in India and 33 houses in Vietnam, and many HIV/AIDS awareness and treatment programs in Asia and Africa.

“A few years ago, we felt the need to make a short but good video documentary to bring our organization to the next level,” Van Rompay said. “Therefore we started collaborating with Hollywood filmmaker/director and actor Andy Lauer and his organization ReelAid. Andy and his team traveled with me to India in 2010 to shoot the footage.

“The movie highlights how — thanks to the amazing support of our many donors and volunteers — together we have been able to make a difference in the lives of underprivileged people across the globe, including families affected by HIV.”

Ramin Yazdani, a Davis resident and president of Sahaya, said, “The editing of the video took a lot of time and effort, but we are very proud with the final product. The movie also has pictures of some of our local fundraising events, such as our annual Sahaya Walks, so viewers may recognize themselves or their friends on film.

“Beyond highlighting some of our achievements, the 20-minute movie has a broader message,” Yazdani continued. “The movie is uplifting and inspiring, and shows how an act of kindness can create a ripple effect. We hope that people will realize that each of us has the power to be a drop that creates such ripple, if we just have the courage to step beyond our personal boundaries. And in making a difference for others lies the basis to find true happiness in our own lives.”

Van Rompay said Irons agreed to provide the narration for free, thanks to an invitation from Lauer.

“His voice is truly perfect for our documentary,” Van Rompay said. “Most young people know his voice best as the one of Scar, in Disney’s ‘The Lion King.’

“As we were also looking for a fitting theme song, we were also very honored when a few months later Grammy Award-winning musician Enya gave us permission to use ‘May it Be,’ the Academy Award-nominated song of ‘Lord of the Rings: the Fellowship of the Ring.’ And many world-class Indian musicians allowed us to include their songs gratis in our soundtrack.”

Yazdani said Lauer will be present for the Davis premiere on Saturday.

“Besides having directed several documentaries, he has also appeared as actor in many Hollywood movies,” Yazdani said. “Many remember him best as Charlie from the 1995-1999 television series ‘Caroline in the City,’ for which he received an Emmy nomination. Currently, he has a supporting role in ‘Iron Man 3.’ ”

D. Selvam, a social worker and founder of Sahaya’s partner organization in India, READ (Rural Education and Action Development), also will be present Saturday.

“As the movie shows, his dedication and selflessness is really the drop that started Sahaya’s ripple effect,” Sahaya board member Lonna Hampton said of Selvam.

In addition to the documentary screenings, the evening will feature Indian music performances, snacks and drinks, provided by I-House and local organizations and businesses, including Preethi Indian Cuisine.

For more information about the movie and the premiere, or to view the trailer, visit



Special to The Enterprise

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