When the ‘Covid-19’ pandemic brought the worldwide life to a grinding halt, it posed a grave economic concern to Ekal movement. Currently, it has presence in over 102,000 villages and reach to 300,000 such pockets of humanity. In absence of usual stage performances for fundraising, the future of its numerous projects was in jeopardy. Concerts or no-concerts, Ekal has always enjoyed generosity of its loyal donors to shoulder a portion of movement’s annual tab but that wasn’t enough in this critical phase. Moreover, as a brand name in North America, ‘Ekal’ was part of the Indian community’s social consciousness - an institution - for classy entertainment, everywhere. The community longed for Ekal to provide refreshing relief - even in this ‘new world order’. Therefore, ‘Ekal-USA’ launched a series of virtual concerts across North America, with groups of Ekal chapters as focal points for each of them. In essence, Ekal, was obligated to preserve the heightened enthusiasm and expectations of the countless volunteers, well-wishers and the supporters. The two troupes engaged for virtual concerts had, not only, the huge fan following, but also, had the proven record of success for fund-raising. One of the troupes was headed by Sa, Re, Ga, Ma contest winner ‘Sanjeevani Bhelande’ and another was headlined by Milind Oak’s ‘Niche’ banner. ‘Event committee’, in consultation with ‘Technology-Team’ provided significant support to the chapters in strategic transatlantic hook ups while the Artistes performed live in the Indian studios. The Chapter-groups assigned for each concert did a remarkable job in marketing their concert by engaging the community and social organizations around them. Chapters beyond the spheres of the concert-regions also helped out in propagating these events. Between May 23 and July 25, Sanjeevani’s troupe had four virtual concerts and Milind Oak had two. All concerts were interactive and the donations were realized ‘live’ in ‘real time’. The montage of Video-clips and narration about ‘Present day’s Ekal’ prepared by ‘Media-Teams’ were very helpful. The Concert on May 23 for Midwest Regions by Sanjeevani raised $162,510; Concert on June 20 for Central Regions by Sanjeevani raised $367,830; Concert on June 28 for Northeast Regions by Milind Oak raised $239,800; Concert on July 11 for Washington DC by Sanjeevani raised $381,290 and the Concert on July 18 for Central Regions by Milind Oak raised $177,100. In this endeavor, Ekal-Canada has also come a long way in last 5 years. With their Concert for Canada-East on July 25 by Sanjeevani it has raised CA $420,000 for the year, so far. Essentially in two months, ‘Ekal’ has managed to raise approx. $1.65 Million during virtual concerts. There are still couple of more concerts yet to follow - e.g. on Aug 1, there is concert for Southwest region by ‘Hemant Kumar Group’ and on Aug 8 for Canada-West by Milind Oak’s group. Before the official ‘clamp-down’ in late-March, Ekal in fact, had started the year by hosting 10 fund-raising stage-events that highlighted fascinating rural-tribal artistry and their unique culture. These events took place basically in sunshine and southern states and raised $650,000. According to Arun Gupta, Chairman of ‘BOD’ of Ekal-USA, “this is a splendid testament to donor’s trust in Ekal movement”.
During ‘Covid-19’ pandemic, the schools were closed and virtual tutoring & home assignments for the students had come to an end. Outdoor group-activities were not available either. Therefore, Ekal undertook a creative approach to channelize youth’s pent-up energy and brain-power for their mutual benefit. It was the need of the hour. Numerous ‘Do-it-yourself’ (DIY) projects - where youths provided virtual tutoring to other youths - were floated on Ekal platform. Since the youths opted to tutor subjects that touched with Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math, this campaign was headlined with ‘STEAM’ as its acronym. This is an on-going effort till the schools open. As of this moment, in 17 such active series youths from 7 states have been enrolled, raising sizable amount for Ekal. Swetha Mulukutla, Isabelle Bodkhe & Spandana Gandhi raised $4130 by tutoring PSAT classes to support ‘skill-training’ for migrant workers in EKAL villages while Ritvik Shah raised more than $3314 by tutoring Python classes to equip few Ekal schools with tablets. In New England area, Jharna Madan and Parveen Minocha (Ekal volunteers) are spearheading another effort to bring light-hearted fun to people of all ages during the current Corona crisis. ‘Indi Art’ is national art competition organized in collaboration with “Khula Asmaan”, an art portal in India. On their behalf 30 art teachers acting as ‘Ekal Indi Art’ ambassadors are offering free workshops in various artforms like MadhuBani, Warli, Watercolors, Acrylic, Textured Art, Tanjore Painting, 3D Art, Digital Art etc. Over 500 have already benefited from these workshops which are open to people of all ages and approx. $10,000 have been raised through these efforts. For more details on activities and forth-coming events, kindly visit www.ekal.org.
“Ekal V. Foundation” (“EVF”) is in 10 countries and is tax-exempt in several of them, including U.S & Canada. It renders all services free-of-cost, irrespective of caste, faith and gender. For this reason and specifically for its enormous work in empowering the rural-tribal folks, the Government of India honored “EVF” with Iconic “Gandhi Peace Prize”, two years back.
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