Donor Appreciation Dinner by Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation
The Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation of USA (EVFUSA), Southeast region, held a donor appreciation dinner at the Palace Restaurant in Atlanta on October 27th. Speaking on the occasion, VP-Southeast region, Chander Aggarwal outlined their mission and activities. "EVFUSA, which started in Atlanta in 1999, has now spread to other states. Out of a total of 18,225 Ekal Vidyalaya run schools, 5430 are sponsored by donors of the US foundation," he said.
Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation is a non-profit organization whose main objective is to help in the overall development of remote tribal and rural villages of India. The foundation, along with its US chapters, is committed to furthering the cause of eradicating illiteracy from tribal and remote areas. Each Ekal Vidyala (school) operates on a shoestring budget. $365 per year for five years makes one school self-sufficient.
Basant Tariyal, who is on the board of both the India and US foundations, said that the EVFUSA is a transparent organization. "Donors can visit the schools they sponsor any time, so they know where their money is going. A lot of people have done that," he said.
EVFUSA member Manohar Valand made a PowerPoint presentation on the mission and objectives of the foundation. "We try to bridge the gap between urban and rural areas, so we can feel like one nation. The curricula at the Vidyalayas take local culture and resources into consideration to make the villages independent and self reliant", he said.
EVFUSA member Sachdeva read out a letter he had received from the teacher and students of the school he sponsors. Written in Hindi, the letter expressed gratitude to their sponsor and an earnest desire to meet with him. "This is a real example that the students exist, the teacher exists and your money is going to the right place," he said.
Ekal Foundation supporter Amitabh Sharma said he hoped 50% of the 100,000 schools envisioned for 2010 would be from the US, out of which 50% would be from Atlanta. "It is our duty to work towards (the betterment of) the children of the country of our birth. We figure amongst the top three countries in corruption. We can bring down this position with education", he said.
A light cultural program followed the presentation. Meghan Rathie and Tanya Sipani danced to songs from hit Hindi films. Local singing talents Anita Gupta and Subramaniam regaled the audience with popular solos and duets.
~ Veena Rao
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