Billionaire grants Mumbai teen’s ballet dream
A TEENAGER from a poor background in Mumbai is to study at one of the world’s leading ballet schools after the intervention of an Indian billionaire.
Amir Shah, 15, who has six siblings and whose father works as a welder, was offered a place at the American Ballet Theatre’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School in New York, if he could collect the money. The teenager and his ballet teacher in Mumbai launched an online fundraising campaign.
Now, it has been announced that a foundation established by an Indian billionaire has stepped forward to meet most of the teenager’s costs. An update on his GoFundMe page said that the Yusuf and Farida Hamied Foundation had offered to pay for his tuition and residence costs.
“However, we are still fundraising to make sure Amir will be able to afford classes outside of JKO to keep up his technique when not at the school, English tutoring, dance equipment, as well as the high cost of living in New York,” it said. It said that they were also still trying to collect money to ensure that the teenager’s teacher in Mumbai, Yehuda Maor, can visit his former pupil in the US.
“Amir and Yehuda have overcome all odds to get to this point, and he needs as much support as possible,” it said.
The foundation that has come to the teenager’s assistance was established by 80-year-old Yusuf Hamied, an Indian scientist and businessman who chairs Cipla, a generic pharmaceuticals company founded by his father in 1935. He is said to have a net worth of $1.45 billion (R18.74bn).
Hamied told The Independent he had been inspired to donate the money after watching Amir’s video. “Have you seen that video. It’s amazing,” he said. “I saw it and thought, ‘he’s got talent’. I decided to donate. It’s no big deal.”
He added: “He called me two days ago and he thanked me profusely. I hope he does well. I wished him good luck.”
Hamied, who was educated at Cambridge University, is known within the pharmaceutical world for producing and creating cheap, generic drugs to treat diseases such as Aids.
Amir has said he is thrilled by the prospect of coming to New York.
“I sometimes think if I didn’t have ballet, I would not have anything,” the teenager said in a video posted on his fundraising page. “I didn’t know ballet could take me so far. I didn’t realise I could become a ballet dancer.”
A spokeswoman for the ballet school, Kelly Ryan, said that the teenager had been accepted for the year-long course after auditioning by video. She added: “We’re expecting him to start this fall (autumn).” – The Independent