Newsletter March 2013

FTS Runs for Mumbai Marathon

The Mumbai Marathon concluded successfully on January 20, 2013. A total of 170 people from Friends of Tribals Society participated in the Marathon. This being the 25th year of FTS, a special effort was made to rope in more people for a sizeable presence. Sri Ajeya Pareek, Joint Abhiyan Prabhari and Smt Sangita Gupta, Ekal Global Coordinator, were also present. FTS walked with special banners with the silver jubilee logo on it. There was a great sense of joy and enthusiasm in the group in this event.
FTS team was sponsored by Zee. It would also get Rs. 3 Lacs form the sponsorship kitty. For FTS, this is a great endorsement in the form of a corporate sponsorship.


FTS Surat participates in Marathon

A Marathon event has been concluded at Surat Chapter under Ekal Abhiyan Silver Jubilee celebration on 23rd Feb., 2013.  It was a part of Surat Half Marathon 2013. 111 Members joined this Marathon for spreading message of upliftment of tribals in rural areas by providing Primary Education, Healthcare Education, Village Development and Empowerment Education to them.


FTS Mumbai President honoured

Sri Jitendra Bhansali, EVFI Trustee and FTS President of Mumbai chapter has been bestowed with an award for Social Work by "JITO" (Jain Industries Trade Organization).  Sri Motila Oswal, President, JITO presented him the award on January 27, 2013.


Arogya Foundation of India organizes medical camps

Arogya Foundation of India, Bangalore conducted two medical camps at Kodagapura and Kelasuru Village in Chamarajnagar District of Karnataka on 12th and 13th January 2013. This is in continuation of monthly camps conducted by them since December, 2009 in various villages of Karnataka State. For success of the camps we acknowledge with thanks the support lent by Friends of Tribals Society, Bangalore, Jai Shivashakti Health and Education Foundation, Bangalore, Have A Heart Foundation, Bangalore, Vittala International Institute of Ophthalmology, Bangalore and Bhagwan Mahaveer Eye Hospital, Mysore.

The camp started after lighting the lamp by Sri Swamy, Grama Panchayat President, and Sri Rajendra Prasad, Sanch Samiti President in the presence of Village Pramuks, Ekal School teachers and Ekal full time workers. Before commencement of health check up, people assembled were briefed by Dr. Satheesh and Sri Srinivas B.S about various Government sponsored health schemes and general health awareness.

As many as 952 people came to the Camp on the two days, out of them 19 were identified for Cataract surgery. They were directed to visit Bhagwan Mahaveer Eye Hospital, Mysore. About 35 were recommended to wear spectacles. 170 Spectacles will be delivered to those who attended the camp in the next three months.

These camps were sponsored by Jai Shivashakti Health and Education Foundation, Bangalore. Post camp eye surgery, cardiac surgery costs will be borne by Jai Shivashakti Health and Education Foundation & Have a Heart Foundation, Bangalore.
Referral sheet were issued by the ophthalmic team to those who require cataract operation by Bhagwan Mahaveer Eye Hospital Mysore and for Major Eye operation to Vittala Eye Hospital, Bangalore.


A Shining Beacon of Hope

During our India trip this time, Anil and I decided to go on a little social enterprise pilgrimage to see some of the work of social enterprises that we have much admired from afar. Ekal Vidyalaya is one such organization that we had been impressed with. We considered their commitment to bring education at a very low cost to those in tribal and other villages, who but for Ekal, would never have had access to any education to be laudable. Our visit to an Ekal school showed us the multi-dimensional impact that Ekal was having not just on education, but on the holistic development of the village.

Their professional approach to everything they do was visible from the get-go. The volunteer assigned to take us to the village was a wonderful person by the name of Sri Vijay Sethi. After retiring from Bureau of Standards, he decided to devote his retired life to this cause. He was present on the dot to pick us up and gave us a minute-to-minute agenda for the day and amazingly even in India we stuck to the agenda. From the city volunteers to the village volunteers to the schoolteachers, professionalism was visible in every aspect of Ekal.

We were scheduled to see a village school close to Mathura. In Mathura, Mr. Mittal the volunteer who manages the Ekal Vidyalaya for the Mathura region warmly greeted us in his home. “I run weighing stations in the Mathura region. I was much moved by the Ekal Vidyalayas and wanted to work for them. They had a need to manage the accounting for the 180 schools in the Mathura region. Being a businessman, this was something I knew well how to do and hence I took on this work” said Mithal.
A dynamic lady from the village was in-charge of the visit and she was as professional as the city volunteer. She took us to the school. The school starts only at 3:00 pm since the children have chores to do at home and a day school is not viable. The school has no walls. Nearly thirty children of different ages sit on old jute bags. A very talented young lady from the village asks the students to begin with the chanting of the Gayatri Mantra and Saraswathi Vandana. The perfect pronunciation and the passion with which all the prayers were rendered were amazing. As the school progressed, Sri Anil and I were allowed to ask questions. Whether it was math or language, the children eagerly put their hands up and answered correctly with a level of confidence I have rarely seen in Indian schoolchildren. As we are ready to leave, I asked a young girl as to what she wants to be when she grows up. "I do not know yet but I will be someone" was the instantaneous confident response. I met another young girl who had her primary learning from an Ekal school and moved on to a local middle school. “The training Ekal gave me was excellent. I do very well in middle school”, she said. I noticed the importance placed on Sanskar and citizenship training. When I was in Delhi I was shocked to see lack of knowledge amongst many youngsters about their own heritage, which led them to lack a sense of rootedness. The idea of good citizenship also was not emphasized. It would be wonderful to replicate the values inculcated in the youngsters in Ekal schools at other places as well.

We saw the other initiatives in the village. “Drinking was an issue amongst the village men. Our founder Shyamjee has worked hard to move them away from drinking. One of the problems is that in the village there is not much entertainment. Teaching bhajans and enabling Satsang has transformed the village.”

The woman who led us to the lunch shocked me by saying “my daughter is doing her Masters via correspondence course. I am very proud of her”. We could know about a vermi-compost pit being used for manure in the village.
When I asked about municipal schools in the area, I learned that while there was a school at a considerable distance from the village where the teacher rarely shows up. Most children who attend the school come to Ekal at 3:00 pm.
Ekal has transformed the entire village bringing not just education but encouraging the men and women of the village to be good citizens. The women were also very confident and felt empowered.

Ekal can keep its costs low because of its amazing volunteer pool. Each volunteer was most modest and humble and told us repeatedly that working for such an organization had transformed their lives. Every member of the organization was living the Gandhian ideal, the change you want to see.

When asked about philanthropy in India, the answer was heartening. “If we can reach out to people and show them our work, people with money are ready to open their hearts and purse strings. We are fortunate that there are a few who are 'Shatkaveers' supporting 100 schools each. We work to cultivate our local support. The need is so great that we are very appreciative of the support we received from abroad as well” said Sethi.

Most importantly I came out thinking if my support of this single school for $365 - $ 1 a day could bring about such a change ! It is certainly the best return for my dollar.

Ranjani Saigal
New England, USA


Vanyatras in Gujarat

Surat Chapter had organized two vanyatras for Australian and USA NRI's in Vyara anchal in Gujarat. Sri Mahendra Bhai from Australia visited two OTS of Balpur and Kapadvan villages of Vyara anchal. He understood the problem for drinking-water faced by the villages in Kapadvan village and offered rupees twenty five thousand to Anchal samiti for the hand-pump.
Sri Ashok Patel with a group of nine people from America visited Prathmik Prakshishan Varg of Narayanpur Sanch of Vyara anchal. One new OTS was also inaugurated by them in Narayanpur village. All the thirty Acharyas of this Sanch were present to grace the occasion.
Sri Ramesh Shah alongwith a group of eleven NRIs from USA visited Bakud Dhara and Malaichondi villages in Vyara Anchal on Jan 20, 2013. They thoroughly enjoyed their visit and interacted with the students and villagers. All of them were in high praise of Ekal Movement that was making visible change in the area.


Ekal School visit by Sreedharan Nair from USA

On 20th January, Sri Sreedharan Nair, Board Member of Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation of USA, visited our Vidyalaya at Coloniputhur a Tribal village of in Ooty Anchal of Tamilnadu. He observed the whole activity of Ekal Vidyalaya from the beginning. Kum S.Manimekalai was the Acharya at our Vidyalaya. A total of 23 students were attended the school. Sri Saravanan, Cluster Coordinator explained our activity at village level. Sri Sreedharan nair, enjoyed a Krishna & Radha dance performed by Ekal students. Sri Sreedharan personally interacted with the Acharya and her family. After visiting Ekal Vidyalaya, he was very impressed with the work and concept of Ekal.


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