Newsletter September 2008

People’s awareness about Ekal Movement in Southern California


  • Sri Amit Patel & Ms. Bonna Chaudhari got married on May 10, 2008 and they asked their guests to donate to Ekal Vidyalaya instead of bringing them the wedding gift. In the past years Sri Anuj & Priya Bhatia and before that Ms. Mamta Kene had done the same.
  • Dr. Nidhi Agrawal & Dr. Sheetal Shah got married on July 5, 2008 and they have donated money for the support of one Ekal School for two years instead giving Party Favors for their guests.  
  • Others who lost their loved ones have also requested their guests to donate to Ekal Vidyalaya instead of bringing flowers.  
  • Two young college girls Ms. Amenda Varanasi & Ms. Ketki Wardukar have donated money for support of one Ekal School each in 2007 & 2008 from their scholarship fund and working during the summer time.  
  • Last year ten year old Sri Vasant Iyer donated all of his $1000 he won from Spelling Bee competition to Ekal.  
  • This year high school Student Sri Arin Ghosh has collected $675 from his school for Ekal. When asked what motivated him and what was his method of Raising Fund Arin’s response in his own words.  
  • A young college grad from UC Riverside with theater major, Sri Vikas Ponnuru got his first job and his first paycheck few months ago and he has donated a school from this.  
  • Sri Avijeet Sharma, a high school student enrolled in Early Entrance Program (EEP) at California State University L.A. is giving all of the money from tutoring towards a school this year.


I was motivated after first hand observing the effects of poverty. In this phase of poverty I felt as if the basics, food and shelter, were being provided, all be it to the minimum but still provided. Then I realized that education had to be the next step to help the people burst out of their deciles. So I searched around for charities here and there and finally one day I was told about Ekal and soon I went to an Fund Raising event in 2007 where I learned more and more about it. Soon I fell in love with Ekal and I wanted to help their programs. One other thing that really attracted me was that the school would be self sufficient in around 5 years time. This was ideal because a) other charities just keep taking money etc, and b) that is really the way to do it because in the end the community should be supporting the school, not Someone else.

The method for our raising the money was something inline with Ekal's mission; promoting education! Our event was a Spelling Bee that had upper school and middle school teachers competing one against the other. In the end one teacher won the prize and we made money not only though donations at that event buy by selling Pizza and beverages. The event was attended by upwards of 100 people during one of our G periods during the school day and over 10 teachers participated.

Hindu Student Council Students from UCI and UC San Diego have collected Funds for Ekal by selling Indian Food during the community service week on Campus.

Smt. Uma Gulani

 

Report on celebration of launching EVF of New Zealand


‘EVF NZ’ has been launched on 20th July in Hamilton with a big fanfare. The preparations started around 2 months before the program date. Apart from Sri Sanjay Joshi, national co ordinator, Sri Neeraj Duggal (staging singing programs as well as supervising other programs) Sri Nandan Modak, (General assistance and selling tickets) Smt. Nirmala Narasimhan (General assistance and particularly getting ads for souvenir), Sri Narasimhan (keeping track of finances), Smt. Sudha Rajan (getting ads), Sri Rajiv Chaturvedi (computer expert and compiling ads) Sri Davinder Khalsa (sponsorships, food arrangement through Gurudwara) were too involved.

A program of duration of approximately 2 and half hours, with a souvenir and dinner was planned. Sri Vijay Bulland promised to print the souvenir at cost.

The ticket price of $7.00 was decided. This was on lower side but spreading the word was important and getting maximum audience was priority.

Ma. Shyamji Gupta, "the man behind the Ekal Movement" was going to be with us. This was one of the rare occasions where different communities had come together for the noble cause.

One week before the event, this program received good exposure by local newspaper ‘Hamilton Press’, Indian radio ‘ Radio Masti’. On the day of the program, local community radio interviewed Ma. Shyamji, Sri Sanjay and Guna Magesan (Hindu Council secretary).

Maximum ticket sales took place on the day of program. Approximately 400 people turned up. It was a good number, considering that the program venue could not accommodate any more people.

The program started with a prayer and welcome speech by Sri Nandan Modak. It was immediately followed by a DVD show and presentation of Ma. Shyamji Gupta. Following that the variety entertainment programs started. Seventeen items were performed by the local artists. The theme of the program was from the children of New Zealand to the underprivileged children of India. So the items were mainly presented by children with or without adult. Notable exception was Sri Manjit Sing who played solo Tabla with Sri Prithpal Singh on Harmonium, playing ‘Lehra’. Rest of the items were mixture of dances (Classical, folk including Bhangra and Bollywood) singing (mainly Bollywood music) and instrumental (Bollywood and Western). The performers were a mix of all the Indian communities and a New Zealander of European/American/Indian descent!

In between the performances, Sri Sanjay Joshi was asked questions by Asad Mohsin and Meenu Wadhwa who were masters of ceremony. The questions were framed to get perspective of a New Zealand citizen of Indian origin (which is what Sanjay Joshi is). The questions aimed at knowing motivation behind involving in such a project and difference between this project and other charities. 

The program was successful at raising awareness EVF New Zealand’s presence. The program got a good coverage in local Newspaper ‘This Week’. It was also successful not only in covering its own cost but sufficient excess funds to sponsor 2 schools on behalf EVF NZ.

 

2nd Anniversary Celebration of Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation of Hong Kong


Holiday Inn-Golden Mile Hong Kong- 16th July 2008

The program started with lighting of Lamp by the VIPs on the dais and then power point presentation on “EKAL Vidyalaya” on its general operation procedures, and explaining the public the need of such organization in today’s fast moving competitive world by Sri Shyamji Gupta. A short film on “Ekal” was also screened during the program.

Thereafter speech by Sri Subhash Chandra, Chairman of EVFI, briefing the people to let them know on what “Ekal” as a charity organization achieved so far and the goal of One Lakh Schools by 2011, which is still far.

Others who attended the function included Sri Jitubhai Bhansali, President of FTS, Smt. Kunji Bhansali and Smt. Sangita Gupta, EVF Global Co-ordinator.

The program was organized by the EKAL Hong Kong Executive team, the Indian Ambassador Sri K.P. Jain was also present as a host of the program.

Several prominent personalities from various industries were also present during the event.

A questions & answers session was also held to enlighten the object of EKAL by Ma. Shyamji Gupta and the dais was also shared by Sri Subhash Chandra. The session was very informative and interactive.

Noticeably after the program many lady volunteers from prominent business families came forward for the support of EKAL’s progress and improvement.

The program ended with a VOTE OF THANKS by Sri K.P. Daswani Patron of EKAL Hong Kong.

 

Ekal Global Learning (EGL) Tour 2009


Ekal Global Learning (EGL) is an annual programme specially designed for NRI volunteers of Ekal Movement to help them to personally experience ground realities of Ekal work on the field. It is meticulously planned for them to get compact and ‘on the spot’ learning of Ekal Systems. EGL will be organized from 7th to 11th January, 2009 in South India.

This year the EGL Tour is scheduled (as given below) for incredible part of India - Karnataka, Kerala and Tamilnadu where the Life moves at a serene pace. These beautiful states make for a rich and colourful study for any anthropologist.

You are cordially invited to plan your vacation in India along with your relative ones.

The Cost will be app Rs.15,000/- ( 10% less or more) per person.

For more, please write to us at sangitaagupta@gmail.com or contact at - 91-11-09811076073.

 

DATE  VENUE  PROGRAMME 
7th Jan.09 Bangalore Welcome by Bangalore Chapter and leave for Mysore at 4.30 PM
 

8th Jan.09 Mysore Welcome by Anchal Samiti. 11.30 A.M. leave for H.D. Kote
 
Lunch with Sankul Samiti and School visit
 

9th Jan.09 Wayanad After breakfast leave for Wayanad. Lunch at Ambalavayal at
 
1.00 PM with Sanch Samiti and School visit
 

10th Jan.09 Masinakudi After breakfast leave for Masinakudi. Visit wildlife sanctuary,
 
project tiger and Ekal School visit
 

11th Jan.09 Coimbtore Leave for Ooty at 8.00 am and breakfast at Ooty.
 
Lunch with FTS Coimbtore,
 
Departure after 4.00 pm

 

 

Sri Anis Parmeshwaran & their friends from USA visit Ekal Vidyalaya


We were introduced to Ekal Vidyalaya by Anish. His father suggested that we volunteer some time in the Ekal schools so that we may interact with the children and gain first-hand knowledge of their lives.  He also explained to us how Ekal runs schools in the remote rural and tribal areas all over India.  We decided to raise some money for this cause, and we put together a couple of small concerts a few days before we left for India. At these two concerts, we were also shown a short DVD clip about Ekal, which gave us a good insight of Ekal’s activities. The Ekal schools chosen for us were in the vicinity of Ankleshwar and Ahwa in Gujarat.

As soon as we came out of Mumbai airport, a car was waiting for us, arranged by Rushil’s uncle from Bilimora, and we were promptly whisked away to Bilimora directly, to enable us to start our Ekal visits at the earliest.

We arrived at Sabridam on the 21st of July and settled into a comfortable guest house.  Dharmendrabhai, head of the Ekal schools in Gujarat, joined us in the afternoon At Sabridham, we visited the  temple of Sabri, the  blessed devotee of Lord Rama, and we recounted the endearing story of Sabri feeding her Lord berries she herself tasted to ensure they are sweet.  We set off for the first village. The winding roads to the first school were just wide enough for two cars to pass each other by. The school was in a village called Pipaldham. When we first arrived there, we were met with curious and somewhat welcoming faces. For the most part, the people were just looking at us, waiting to see why we had come to their village. They brought out seats and we sat down for some time, and then made our way over to the Ekal School. Once again, the villagers provided us with chairs and we sat down in front of the kids. When we arrived at a school, the children began to essentially showcase what they had learned. They would chant ‘Om’ three times. This would be followed by chanting the gayatri mantra three times. Next, the students would chant their holy prayers and then perform a welcome or swagat dance.  After their presentation, we had an interactive session, with them singing a bhajan and then us joining in. Afterwards, we would teach them several of our bhajans (i.e. Shiva Om, Ram Bhajobhai Ram, and Jaya Vireshwar). At this point, the students would stand up individually and recite either a story or the multiplication table, or occasionally the English alphabet. The students would always surprise us with their courage and knowledge.  That was when the instructor led the kids right next to the building, and drew a large circle. We could see the excitement build up in the kids’ faces as everyone gathered around the circle made of chalk. Neighboring townspeople even stopped by to have a look at the fun. At first, we observed a simple game of jumping in and out of a circle. We realized that all of us could easily join in, so we jumped in as well. The kids had a good laugh as we made mistakes and all eventually lost the game. Afterwards, a whole array of games were played, ranging from a version of hot potato, to the same “follow the leader” game that is played so many times at Vivekananda Vidyapith Summer Camp. Many of the games were based on mythological stories, and we noted this was a wonderful way of introducing mythologies with a dose of fun! In the game of  Ram-Ravan, the teacher would split the class into Ram and Ravan teams and would say ‘Ra- Ra- Ra- Ra- Ra- Ra-Ram!’ or ‘Ravan’. The team which the teacher calls on would have to tag the other team before they cross the line to their home country. Another game was ‘Bhasmasur’, based on the story of the asura who got a boon from Shiva of burning to ashes any person whose head he would place his hand on. A participant is chosen to be Bhasmasur, and everyone else would force Bhasmasur to touch his/her own head. During this time, we took many pictures and videos, which interested the kids very much.  In one picture, Samir is holding a video camera, and five children are behind him looking up in awe at the strange new device. We saw how amazed they were at our cameras, so we would take their pictures and show what they looked like. The kids would laugh and be slightly embarrassed. They would all crowd around one of us, waiting for their chance to see themselves in our cameras. When it was finally time for us to leave, the kids chased the cars for a surprisingly long time with great enthusiasm. It was a final sign that we really did make a good impression on the children. Hopefully, they will remember us and be inspired to do their best in their Ekal School and however far their education takes them.

Most schools we went to in the next few days were very similar. The beginning performances were always identical--only the recitation portion would change from school to school. After we visited a few schools, we decided that we would perform for the kids, as well. We sang a few bhajans. Then, Rushil, one of the two people in our group who could speak Gujarati, would lead a mini English lesson about the parts of our body. For a few schools we sang “Twinkle Twinkle” and “The Itsy Bisty Spider,” but we soon realized it was too hard for them too repeat, and difficult for us to translate the meaning. We even had a little dispute about the wording of “Twinkle Twinkle” between ourselves, so we gave up on reciting those two poems very quickly. The best part of our visits was always the games, which helped in breaking all barriers, with the children, adults and our group becoming one big unit, in the true spirit of the game, having fun. There were no language barriers, no class consciousness, no regional boundaries, when everyone danced to the folk music played by the locals with gay abandon without a care in the world. We felt a sense of oneness with the simple tribal people and saw the boys and girls as our own brothers and sisters

After visiting many schools and handing out lots of Eucerin (skin cream) and tissue paper (two items that Samir managed to arrange) to the children, we visited a girls’ Aashram. It was a hostel where children who completed the Ekal school process would go for further education. We didn’t get to interact with the children but we did get to see the facilities and meet with the people who ran the school. Our volunteering experience concluded there, where we said our final goodbyes and thanks to Dharmendrabhai.

We wish to express our gratitude to all the people who made this dream trip a reality. We had multiple planning sessions amongst ourselves and the parents, laying out the minor details, working on the logistics, booking the airline tickets, planning the trips in India. The Ekal extended family here and in India provided solid support; all the relatives in India whose houses we stayed in, opened their homes and hearts for all of us; our driverbhais treated us as their own children talking care of all our needs.  Our special thanks go to all the karyakartas who silently worked behind the scenes in the planning and execution of the whole trip, in the midst of their hectic schedules. Varshaji planned our entire trip, and passed on the baton the execution team.  Dharmendrabhai was with us through thick and thin for the entire trip. He traveled and stayed with us, ate with us – we felt we knew him for eternity. His attention to detail was apparent everywhere – from the welcome committee that materialized out of thin air at every school, the programs the children arranged for us, the village panchayat people coming out to answer our questions. Our humble gratitude to these karyakartas, who work in the true spirit of ‘nishkama karma’ taught by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, sacrificing their time and resources for the greater good of the community. A thousand salutations to each one of them!

Here are a couple of suggestions that we feel would enhance any future trips made by kids like us to Ekal sites in the coming years. Our group was able to visit about 9 schools in the course of a week, in the vicinity of Ahwa and Ankleshwar. We felt a sense of joy that we were able to touch the lives of all the children in these schools, albeit for a short time. However, even though we visited so many schools, we could not interact in detail with the kids of any school. We feel it would be better if, in the same timeframe, we had visited just one or two schools, spent more time with the kids, got to know more about a day in the life of a boy or girl in the tribal area. We would have loved to visit a family, talk to them about their problems and issues they face. That would have given us a better sense of appreciation of their needs and their struggles. We would be in a better position to communicate this when we speak about this to our friends and contacts, thereby increasing awareness leading to more support for our brothers and sisters back home. Another aspect that we realized was the tremendous talent in the kids, be it music, studies or sports. It is our strong belief that in these remote tribal and rural areas are lurking potential natural Olympians. The talents in these children can be tapped by grooming and proper training. If China could achieve this, there is no reason why India cannot. We hope that we can initiate this movement in the years to come.

Overall, the trip was a meaningful and adventurous experience. It could potentially be the beginning of a lifelong project we may undertake, which can shape the lives of these rural Indian children. We saw first-hand how much enthusiasm and potential each and every one of them has, and how it takes very little on our part to foster it.  If we could take up even one school as our own, raise money for supplies and other necessities, visit them from time to time and create a close bond, we would have succeeded in making a difference. Thank you, Ekal Vidyalaya, for gifting us such a wonderful experience!

Report By Sri Anish, Sri Apurva, Sri Gaurav, Sri Rishi, Sri Rushil & Sri Samir

 

Ekal updates - Ekal Vidyalaya


Current: Number of Ekal Schools: 27,114 Number of Children: 813,420

 

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