Ekal Vidyalaya’s musical fundraiser raises $40,000!
On June 17, a crowd of 350 Atlantans was in for a treat when Ekal’s talented artists from India—Vishwanath Batunge, of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa fame, and Nayana Sarma—came together with a live band to perform a concert-style “Sur Sangam” program at Impact Banquet Hall in Global Mall.
[Left] A concert-style Sur Sangam musical evening for Ekal Vidyalaya.
The event began with a delectable dinner prepared by Ashiana restaurant, and a cheerful welcome from Manju Tiwari, who emceed the event with verve and poise.
The well-attended event was graced by Shawn Still, Georgia State Senator, and his wife; Srikanth Gundavarapu, Atlanta Chapter President of SEWA International; Madan Ghildayal, Deputy Consul at the India Consulate in Atlanta; and actor Arvind Vaidya, who played Bapuji in TV Serial Anupamaa. The guests of honor were accompanied by Ekal’s Atlanta Chapter’s President Shiv Aggarwal and Ajay Upadhyaya, the EKAL Regional Vice President, in lighting the lamp.
Ajay Upadhyaya kicked off the music- and songs-studded program. The Sur Sangam group seamlessly wove through vintage, semi-classical, and trending new songs “O duniya ke rakhwaale.” “Parda hai parda,” “Lag ja gale,” “Julie, I love you,” and “Dhum dhum dhol baaje” among other soulful and foot-tapping numbers. The romantic song “Badan pe sitaare lapete hue” appealed to Shawn Still and his wife so much that they couldn’t resist getting up to sway and dance to this catchy number!
[Left] The well-attended program had attendees enjoying themselves throughout the evening.
The DVDs and the slide presentation, made by Rakesh Raheja, showed the strides Ekal has made in rural/tribal education, health, empowerment, and integrated village development reachingover two million students that comprise an almost equal number of boys and girls, enrolled in nearly 83,395 Ekal schools across India!
In addition to the one-teacher schools, Ekal also runs Gramothan Resource Centers (GRC) where sustainable farming for high-yield organic crops, vermiculture, home-based small businesses, computer literacy, tailoring, carpentry training, and skills enhancement are provided. This visionary step generates income opportunities in the villages and prevents the flight of rural youth to large cities in search of employment.
Atlanta volunteers, Harbans and Malti Singla, sponsored one such GRC which is operational now. With the help of technology, EKAL has also made rapid progress in programs like E-Shiksa (E-Tablets), Telemedicine Enhanced Arogya, and mobile computer labs called “Ekal on Wheels,” all of which are geared towards overall integrated village development.
Audience members were quick to sponsor Ekal schools which cost only a one-time payment of $365 but runs on behalf of and in the name of the sponsor for a whole year and becomes self-sustaining within five years. Ekal’s vision is to empower the villagers to take charge of their own growth and not look for permanent doles. This vision struck a chord with the audience, and in one night, 111 schools were sponsored.
— Rachna Gupta and Mahadev Desai, photos by Rajesh Khanna Photography
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