Remembering our friend, Gauri Varadhachary

– By Vijay Goradia, Founder, Pratham USA

The Pratham Family is heartbroken by the tragic loss of our dear friend and family member, Dr. Gauri Varadhachary, who passed away in June from lung cancer.

Shortly after we registered Pratham USA as a formal charity in 1999, I was made aware of Gauri and her husband, Atul, particularly their involvement with Pratham in India. I immediately contacted them and invited them to become involved here in the US. Atul and Gauri readily agreed.

A brilliant medical oncologist at MD Anderson, Gauri was highly respected by her colleagues and deeply loved by her patients, for whom her compassion and dedication were renowned. I was one of the many beneficiaries of her empathy when I had cancer myself. Gauri visited me every day, evaluated my reports, spoke to my oncologist and surgeon, and gave me much-needed reassurance—all while dealing with her own illness.

Despite the demanding commitments of her profession, Gauri always found time to give back and help improve the lives of those less fortunate. She and Atul, former president of Pratham USA, are among the original pioneers of our organization. In 1998, Gauri and Atul returned to India and started Pratham Health (now called Niramaya Health Foundation) which at the time provided iron and micronutrient supplements to 65,000 children in Balwadis (preschools) and offered health advice and training to communities. Their efforts alongside Madhav, Rukmini and Farida in Mumbai introduced many to the work of Pratham.

Gauri served on the Houston chapter board for two decades, taking on a variety of roles: engaging new donors, recruiting board members, crafting bylaws, advising on strategic planning—even choosing the menu for the annual Gala. Her warm smile and seemingly boundless energy were infectious.

A couple of years ago, I attended Gauri’s 50th birthday party. It was an intimate gathering and I found myself moved by her colleagues, friends and family members as they spoke glowingly about her. It was then that I truly understood Gauri’s accomplishments. She had excelled at being a devoted mother and wife, an accomplished physician and scientist, a trusting friend, and a committed Pratham supporter. She had done it all.

Please join me in sending our deepest condolences to Atul and their daughters, Tanvi and Riya; her parents, Drs. Prem and Rekha Rajani; her mother-in-law, Ms. Jamna Varadhachary; and her brother Rajeev Rajani.

Gauri would have turned 53 on August 25th, 2021. She left us too soon, but through the daughters she raised, through the patients she treated, through the colleagues she mentored, and through the children in India whose lives she transformed, her legacy will live on.

A memorial service celebrating Gauri’s life can be viewed here. You are encouraged to leave a tribute or honor her with a donation to Pratham. A close friend has offered to match donations.

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