A Grand Finale at Kolkata
Friends of Tribals Society (FTS), Kolkata celebrated their Silver Jubilee in presence of several distinguished personalities like Pravrajika Atandraraprana of Sri Sarada Math and Ramakrishna Mission, Dr. Pranav Pandya, Swami Dibyananda, Brahmachari Mural Bhai, Dr. Anil Kakodkar, Shri Sanjib Chattopadhyay and Shri. Shyam Gupta. Shri. Sajjan Bhajanka, President of FTS welcomed the gathering and recalled the yeomen service of the Ekal in uplifting the lives of tribals. Shri Mural Bhai after his speech administered the oath to all based on ‘Swadesh Mantra’ of Swami Vivekananada.
The concluding program held at Shahid Minar Ground on 5 January 2014 saw large gathering participated in three processions with tableaus from different places like Hedua Park, Subhas Udyan and Ram Lila Grounds. To mark the occasion there was a nine day long exhibition at Shahid Minar Ground from December 31, 2013.
Competitions Galore at FTS, Surat
Friends of Tribals Society (FTS), Surat had conducted a galore of competitions to enthuse the men, women, youth and children.
As part of the Silver Jubilee Celebrations, Surat Chapter’s “Maa Yashoda Yojna (Sevapathra Yojna) arranged for a host of competitions on 29 Dec 2013.
‘Maa Yashoda Yojna’s patron, and the program in charge, Shri. Mahesh Kumar Mittal extended Sevapathra in 5000 houses and only members from these houses participated in the competitions. With this, the Surat chapter's Mahila Varg sisters successfully reached 2361 houses and registered 703 participants.
589 participants did coloring, painting, memory, I.Q, survey, test audit, trade enquiry questions and questions based on Hanuman Chalisa were part of the competition subjects. Every competition had 6 prizes and the program was conducted in Agrawal Vidhya Vihar School. Prizes were distributed by Shri. Shyamji Gupta, Shri. Ajay Kumar Parik, Shri. Bajrang Bagda and Shri. Swapan Mukherjee.
Shri. Shyamji Gupta addressed the gathering and gave away the certificates of appreciation and prize to 24 lady members for distributing Sevapatra and the 51 winners who participated in different events. This program was composited with the help of Shri. Vidakar Bansal and Shri. Kunj Pansari.
The administration team of Shri. Ramesh Agrawal, Shri. Vinod Kanodia and their team and members of Mahila Varg, 20 teachers from Agrawal Vidhya Vihar School and Surat Public School managed the program from morning to evening. Shri. Mahesh Kumar Mittal delivered the concluding speech.
Bank Comes to Ekal at Nagapattinam
Indian Overseas Bank (IOB), one of the leading public sector bank of India has proposed to adopt 100 One Teacher Schools for the financial year of 2013-14. They have already adopted 30 One Teacher Schools in Kolli Hills of Namakkal district during 2011-12. This time they proposed for 25 villages in 4 different districts viz., Nagapattinam, Ramanathapuram, Nilgiris and Dindigul of Tamil Nadu State. FTS Chennai Chapter coordinated the proposal and adoption process with the support of Ekal Vidyashram. Shri.R.K.Gupta, General Manager, National Banking, Coimbatore gave the cheque of Rs 4 lakhs to Ms. Kokila, Karyakartha in charge of Nagapattinam district for adopting 25 Ekal Vidyalayas of Nagapattinam on 30 November 2013 at Sirkazhi, Nagapattinam District.
Ms Kokila, coordinated the event. On that day, she brought 112 Ekal Children across different villages adopted by IOB in the district. The children performed Dance, Street Play, Song and Mimicry in front of the dignitaries. Shri. Sivasamy, Regional Manager, IOB-Nagapattinam, Shri. Senthil, Manager, Rural Development, IOB, Nagapattinam, Shri. Shyam Sundar Damani, Chairman, FTS South Zone and Shri. Kothandraman, Secretary, Ekal Vidyashram, Nagapattinam Anchal participated.
The role of IOB in rural and tribal development was highlighted in the program. Shri.L.Boopathi, Manager, Outreach, Friends of Tribals Society gave valedictory address.
Mahila meet at Jarasangam
Jarasangam (Sangmeshvara Temple), Zaheerabad, Medak District met on 28 & 29 Dec 2013. 300 Mahila Karyakartas participated from Ranga Reddy, Medak, Warngal , Palamoor, Karimnagar and Adilabad Anchals. Smt Parijata Reddy explained about the Janahitha Function and stressed on the need to save Dharma and our Culture and requested the Karyakartas to involve more people into the Organization. Karyakartas enacted episodes from Ramayana and Mahabharat.
Poornima, the Achiever from Ekal Vidyalaya
Here is a girl who has achieved and become a role model for others in her village Chokkanali, in the reserve forest of Western Ghats of Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu because of Ekal Vidyalaya.
Tribal people living in forest areas, particularly girls, are normally not encouraged to pursue studies after primary school level. Passing seventh standard is considered a big achievement among most tribal groups; but the situation is now changing as many girls are pursuing higher studies and securing good jobs.
Poornima, a girl from Irula community, and daughter of Sri. C.B. Bantan and Smt. Pushpa lived in a village called Chokkanali. Poornima who started her basic education with Ekal Vidyalaya in her village for first 4 years, migrated to a nearby village to study further at GRG Memorial Higher Secondary after which she did her diploma in textile for 3 years.
She scored higher marks than the students of private schools in the plain areas. Now, she is back with Ekal. She is doing her 1 year Diploma in Ayurveda Health Care Assistance in AVP Training Academy through Bharathiar University of Coimbatore with the support of Ekal. After this, she can work as a pharmacist/therapist in any Ayurveda center. Poornima aspires to work and earn for women empowerment and education.
‘Engaging & Encouraging’ – My First Visit to Nepal By Prof. Manjushree
I visited Nepal from 24 to 26 of November 2013 on an invitation of Jankalyan Pratishthan, Nepal running Ekal Movement in the Himalayan Country. A warm welcome was extended to me at the Tribhuvan Airport by the senior members of the Pratishthan. Shri Nand Kishor Ghiraiya, senior member and President, Shri Vinod Agrawal, Treasurer and Smt. Pooja Mittal with other members of Kathmandu Ekal team made me feel very special. As I came out at the exit gate, the guard saluted me as if I am a big leader. I was informed that his daughter is the teacher in Ekal Vidyalaya. When I offered the flower bouquet I was holding to him with honor, he felt thrilled.
Since it was my first visit in Nepal, I expressed my desire to learn the basics of the country which is so close to Indian cultural values and ethics. I was keen to know about Indians, their lives, occupations, feelings, and social status etc. in Nepal. I felt nothing foreign about Nepal. In fact, the country seemed very much like our own.
The first meeting with the core team was held at Shri Nand Kishor Ghiraiyaji’s house. Smt Pooja, Vinodji , Sri Sunil Kumar Agrawal, Secretary of the Pratishthan and some other members attended the meeting. I understood the growth of Ekal Vidyalaya Movement in Nepal running under the aegis of Jankalyal Pratishthan in this meeting. The Prabhari for Ekal Abhiyan Nepal from India, Shri Snehpalji was with me throughout my stay in Kathmandu. Nepal has 14 Anchals (Zones) and 75 Zillahs (Districts).
There are 102 full time Volunteers to administer Ekal schemes in Nepal. At present, out of total 14 Anchals, Ekal is running in 11 zones and out of 75 Zillas (Districts, smaller than Indian Districts) Ekal has reached in 34 Zillas. There are 1216 Ekal Vidyalayas in 1216 villages, both in plains and in hills. The children studying in Ekal Schools are 33,619. Since Arogya Yojana has been started, around 12,090 persons are cured in 88 health camps.
Nepal is beautiful, naturally simple, calm, quiet and ethnically rich. But, the people in villages are poor, illiterate and suffering from lack of basic amenities. The Ekal schemes have proved successful in promoting education, healthcare and hygiene, village development, empowerment and Sanskar Shiksha in rural and tribal villages of India.
Similarly, in Nepal too, education of masses, healthcare, development and prosperity can be promoted in the villages following the same procedures and methods of Ekal in India. The enthusiasm of the Ekal Team adopted the Ekal schemes in the name of Jankalyan Pratishthan is impressive, in true spirit to enhance the living conditions of the villagers in Nepal. The villagers are simple, innocent, peace loving and very religious minded. They are devotees of Lord Pashupatinath. Smt. Pooja Mittal took me to the most ancient and highly revered temple of Bhagwan Pashupatinath, and I offered Pooja for the welfare of the people.
Smt. Pooja Mittal being the most energetic and self motivated woman, was the natural choice of all to take the lead of the Mahila Samiti of Jankalyan Pratishthan. The formal Mahila Samiti was inaugurated on 26 Nov 2013 in a well attended function in a prestigious city hall. The team of NRI’s from UK, after visiting many Ekal Vidyalayas in Nepal villages also attended the function. They got to hear the narrations of Ekal Movement which was delivered by me as the main speaker in the function. They were pleased with the Ekal Movement in India and Nepal.
My meeting with senior full-time volunteers of Ekal was very significant. While they were keen to know about Ekal in India, I influenced them to share their work experiences in Nepal. It turned out to be a lively discussion. Sri Ghiraiyaji and Vinodji have taken full care of these volunteers.
The most dedicated and senior full timer Sri Birendra Budhathoki, Sangathan Mantri is the supporting pillar of Ekal in Nepal. It is his determination that shores up Kathmandu Ekal Samiti which guarantees consistent growth of Ekal in Nepal. Now, the Mahila Samiti with Smt. Pooja on driving seat is sure to make a difference in the progress.
There are Samiti members in Birat Nagar, Janakpur, Birgunj, Bhairahava, Nepalgunj, Dhangadi, Bagmati and Gandaki regions also.
A lot of scope is there for schemes like Ekal for grass root working in Nepal villages. I wished great success to the Ekal Team and returned to India with very warm and encouraging feelings about Nepal after the hectic meetings and family visits of many people associated with Ekal.
Our visit to Ekal Vidyalaya, Tansukh
Our visit to two Ekal schools in Udaipur turned out to be a very interesting one. We enjoyed meeting with kids, teacher and community members. We distributed sweet and candies to kids and also took part in community musical and singing group. People we met were very polite, cooperative and hospitable.
We also went to Rameswaram in Tamilnadu. Our sincere thanks to Shri Muthu at Rameswaram who was very helpful in all respects to us. We could have visited another school at Rameswaram, however, school timings were not matching with our schedule.
Ekal team in India is very helpful in making all arrangements for us, which is laudable. We would like to have another visit this year if we visit India again.
‘A Visit to Cherish’ By Dhanayvadah, Nishank, USA
Like many supporters of Ekal Vidyalaya in USA, I too thought that Ekal does an excellent work of bringing school to students, thus making Swami Vivekananda’s dreams come true. However, I too was not aware that Ekal has also set a firm foot in non-tribal rural areas. Naimisharanya (in central Uttar Pradesh) being one of them.
In 2012, I met Dr Satheesh Kumar in Milpitas, California. While discussing about my ancestral place Sitapur, Dr. Satheesh informed me about the Ekal Vidyalaya in Naimisharanya. I was pleasantly surprised that someone in USA even knew about such a place. Despite being a major place in Hindu history as well as religion (Naimish is mentioned in Satyanarayan vrat, Mahabharat as well as in Ramayana, also is one of 108 Divyadesam for Vaishanavas), Naimish never got its fair share. Stripped bare of any kind of industry, agricultural or tourism, Naimish area must be one of the most poor and desolate places in central UP. On Dr Satheesh's insistence, I made up my mind to visit Ekal in Naimish on my next trip to India.
I finally got the opportunity just last week, with the assistance of the District Coordinator Shri Suresh Gupta, (contact on ekal.org) and Shri Brijesh Singh, Regional Coordinator for Naimish. While my family and I were regular visitors to Naimish temples, Brijeshji along with Munshilalji ensured that we reached safely and had proper directions to each destination within Naimish. Since I was traveling with my whole family, as is customary, it added to delays at various places. However, I must appreciate the patience of Brijeshji, who was very accommodative without any sign of inconvenience throughout the day. He informed us about various schools in Naimish and different projects being started. We visited the nearby school in Kuan-mau. The school is attended by 40 children of different age groups. We reached just in time to catch school in action with Acharya ji (as a matter of pride, the Acharya was a young girl!). The school timings are 3 to 6pm and runs in the courtyard of teacher's home. On our arrival, the students presented skits, poems, jokes, shlokas, confidently displaying their ken. The children are very enthusiastic and communicative. My father and brother who were exposed to Ekal for the first time were deeply impressed with the whole affair. Though I know about Ekal much, wasn’t expecting any surprise, but I must agree that the experience of visiting Ekal Vidyalaya personally can never match any words. Brijeshji had also invited various village residents along with Gram Pradhan. The effect of Ekal in village was very obvious and villagers were visibly appreciative of the effort.
We interacted with children and villagers for some more time and finally bid adieu. It was a very memorable evening and moments to cherish. This personal experience has reinforced my belief in Ekal movement. I returned back to USA with a firm resolve to promote Ekal and request my friends to visit Ekal schools.