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Pratham Brings Education to Impoverished Children

July 2003
Pratham Brings Education to Impoverished Children

It was to spread the word of literacy and education that a team of committed Indians from India and Atlanta got together at Bombay Grill on May 29th. During the fundraising dinner, Waheeda Rehman ? the goodwill ambassador of Pratham and a renowned Indian actress of yester years ? spoke of the contribution that non-resident Indians could make to this cause. "Education is undoubtedly very important," she said. "In fact, it is fundamental to a person's identity. Indians living in the U.S. can make a big difference if they get together for the literacy cause in India. They can contribute, not only by donating generously but also by volunteering and by spreading the word."

The fundraiser was an eye-opener in many respects. In his address, Yogi Patel, president of Pratham U.S.A., shared some alarming facts and figures. "Approximately 400 million Indians are illiterate. Of these, there are 60 million children in the age group of 3 years to 5 years and another 40 million in the age group of 6 years to 11years." Following Mr. Patel's presentation, Farida Lambay, the co-founder of Pratham, clarified the doubts of interested members. She proclaimed that what set Pratham apart from other non-government organizations was that it served to bring together the local government, the corporate sector and the voluntary sector to achieve "universal primary education" in India. With the help of financial and managerial expertise ? provided by corporate leaders ? and the dedication of community volunteers, Pratham has grown rapidly since 1994. It now reaches nearly 200,000 children all over India.

- Deepa Agarwal

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