In this, the season of giving, we ask three community leaders what their favorite charity is, and why.
Dr. P.Venugopala Rao
Community think thank; founding president of IACA
Few years ago during a visit to Hyderabad we (myself and my wife Lakshmi Rao) visited a school for the handicapped children run by Vamsee Ramaraju. We found children who are crippled for different reasons enrolled in this school.. They are all being taken care of and educated. They looked happy. These are not children placed by parents there. They were picked up from various places like a railway station or a street corner. They were homeless and abandoned. Some of them are orthopedically handicapped, some are hearing impaired and some are visually impaired.
The school is under the watchful supervision of a dedicated social worker and is creating a life-transforming experience to those whom society has abandoned. It is like a miracle to see a child who can once only crawl on the street now walking there in the institute with a proud smile on the face. The institution has currently around two hundred children who are being restored into a healthy living state. There are medical facilities to take care of them besides giving them vocational training and life supporting skills. Some of them have graduated and moved on to professional schools. A dedicated staff helps Ramaraju to maintain this facility with efficiency. We are convinced that this institution deserves our support. From then on we have been encouraging many of our friends to visit this facility and they all have responded positively and supported it.
Soon we discovered that it is supported by NRIs through the Vegesna Foundation. We regularly contribute to this organization whenever they have a fund raising campaign in the USA. The contact information on this foundation can be found at the website www.vegesnafoundation.org.
Indira Balakrishnan, President, The Greater Atlanta Tamil Sangam (GATS)
The holiday season is the season to give in the US. It is the season to be thankful for our fortunes and to help those who are not as fortunate. However, for Indians, living in the US, charity is a part of our lives throughout the year. We, who have immigrated to this wonderful country, are very fortunate to lead a good life. However, there are a number of not so fortunate souls in the country we emigrated from – people who cannot afford the appropriate medical care, housing or sometime even food and clothing, the basic necessities of life. There are several wonderful organizations in India that assist such individuals who are not as fortunate. One such organization is Sankara Nethralaya, a not-for-profit medical care organization based out of Chennai, Bangalore and Kolkata India that provides excellent eye-care to several individuals.
For any human being, eye-sight is probably one of the most precious elements of life, next only to life itself. One without proper or no eye-sight is one who lives in a dark world, completely dependent on others through their lives. One who provides eye sight to others provides one of the best services a human being could provide to another. Sankara Nethralaya and its physicians provide this invaluable service to thousands of individuals from all over India. Every year, it provides eye-care from cataract surgery to eye-replacement to thousands of individuals, all at low or no cost. For example, all it takes to do a cataract surgery is the measly sum of Rs. 3000 or less than $70, which we spend on one meal! For providing this invaluable service to humanity, Sankara Nethralaya is my favorite charity!
Dr. H.N.Ramaswamy, Founder and board member, Nrupathunga Kannada Koota
Nrupathunga Kannada Koota, since its inception in 1973, as a tax exempt cultural organization has endeavored to participate in community and charitable work. NKK donations have gone to families in tragedy, educational institutions and victims of national calamities. It has adopted Douglas Road in Alpharetta and our volunteer-members have contributed several hours of their precious time to maintain the cleanliness of the road. It has participated in Vibha-walkthon to raise funds. The major contributions are listed on our website www.atlantakannada.org. Our association has been awarding $4000 each year to high school graduates for the last four years. Recently we have contributed $3000 to Ramakrishna mission in Belgaum to build and donate a house to the victims of recent floods in Karnataka State.
Personally, I have been fortunate to build a library building, a community hall and establish several scholarships from elementary school to junior college in addition to renovating and restoring a temple in my village.