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 <<CityNews Main Send Flowers to India!

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Reaching One Million Children Through Ekal Vidyalaya

It is not every day that you get a chance to make a major difference in a child’s life. What if you had an opportunity to change the future of over one million children? What if you changed their lives while enjoying a night of catered dinner, music, dancing and entertainment with live band from India? What if that chance cost you just $20? Would you take it?

Ekal asked these questions when inviting people to attend its program on March 2nd at Global Mall. Atlanta responded overwhelmingly. People came, were impressed and asked “What can I do next?”. They opened their hearts and pocket-books to sponsor 50 Ekal schools and became part of a journey to mould the future of millions of children.

Atlantans came to enjoy the ninth show of Samir Date (Bollywood Composer and Playback Singer) and Dipalee Somaiya (SaReGaMa winner) who are on a national tour for Ekal Vidyalaya till June 3, 2012 visiting many US states with their very successful program "Bollywood Milestones 1961 - 2011" and left the auditorium committed to join hands in the battle against illiteracy.

Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation, a non-profit organization which organized this fundraising program was a wonderful host and began the event with a sumptuous dinner, thandai and desserts in keeping with the Holi spirit. Radhika Suda was the emcee at the venue which was decorated gratis by 5th Season. Shiv Aggarwal lit the traditional lamp, Roopa Nene beautifully sang a Ganesh Stuti and Geetika Jape invoked Lord Ganesha's blessings through dance which she choreographed under her teacher Nilima Gaddam's guidance. 

Both, Samir Date and Dipalee Somaiya are entertainers with great stage presence. They had the audience humming the lilting, nostalgic songs sung by Geeta Dutt, Mohammad Rafi, Kishore Kumar, compositions of Madan Mohan, O.P. Nayyar, dancing to upbeat of Shammi Kapoor (Baar Baar Dekho, Chahe Koi Mujhe Junglee Kahe) and Amitabh Bachchan (Rang Barse, Holi Khele Raghuveera, Kajrare) numbers and enjoying classical songs and ghazals (Raahat Fateh Ali Khan and Jagjit Singh). The instrumentalists, Sanjit Birha (Octopad) and Sameer Poddar (keyboard) easily flitted from one genre to another and with Salim Panjwani's well managed sound system kept an audience of 400 engaged and thoroughly entertained for three hours!

Atlanta is where Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation of America had its beginnings and is now a registered 501(c)(3) tax-exempt entity. Ekal screened short films which showed how and where it operates its innovative, one-teacher schools bringing functional literacy, healthcare, development and empowerment education to 36,783 remote and tribal villages in India and presently imparting basic education to over one million children. The Ekal movement started as an experiment in Jharkand tribal areas in 1986 and has now spread in every state of India to become the largest grassroots, non-government education initiative. It only takes $365, i.e. a dollar-a- day, to establish and run an Ekal one teacher school in the sponsor's name for an entire year. 

Sponsorships for Ekal schools at this event came from individuals, business owners, associations and even anonymously! SEWA volunteers helped Ekal in efficiently completing secure online credit card transactions. Ekal raised $ 24,000, making it a very successful fundraising night. 

For sponsors interested in knowing the impact and efficacy of their funds, Ekal encourages visiting web site for the success stories and Impact Assessment study conducted by TATA Dhan Institute of Ekal schools in India under the supervision of Prof. DVR Seshadri's (I I M, Bangalore, India). Prof. Seshadri, stated in his own words, "The visit was indeed an eye opener. The village was very difficult to access, and had widespread poverty and deprivation. Left to itself, this cycle of grinding poverty would continue generation after generation. In the midst of all this, I found Ekal Vidyalaya as a beacon of hope to the next generation. The conduct and behavior of the children, the discipline they manifested, the neatness with which they dressed (despite having very modest clothes), and most importantly the hope which showed in their eyes, was deeply touching and humbling at the same time. It was clear that the Ekal movement had deep meaning and was well conceived of by the people at the helm of affairs who are driving it. They are people deeply committed to the cause, not interested in name, fame or prestige that their roles will bring. Many of them work very silently on a cause that they passionately believe in. Their humility and passion is a lesson for all of us to learn from."

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