Harnessing Youth Power to Raise Funds for Ekal Vidyalaya

By Adeet Phanse

             I first heard about Ekal Vidyalaya through my father who visited a musical show in 2012 and afterwards told me how about the mission. Growing up in the United States, where public education is not only free but encouraged, I had no idea that so many people still went without education in my mother country of India. I think that education is a basic right that all children should have. During those critical formative years, an education is a valuable thing that a child can have as it will insure that they expand their knowledge of the world while also providing an opportunity for them to succeed later in life.


            Thus, it was only natural that upon hearing about Ekal's Mission and hearing how many people still lacked education in India, I was inspired to do something to remedy this problem. I also wanted to give back to the community, as I am fortunate enough to have access to an education that will allow me to get a job and thrive later in life. I started a youth volunteering group with my friends with the goal of doing just that, helping both the local and global community. Locally we went to several senior citizen homes and put on a cultural show for them, with Indian and America dance, song and music. We explained the mission of Ekal and at some of these shows the senior citizens pooled together whatever money they could spare and donated it to Ekal! This was surprising as we did not expect anything in return from them, we just wanted to give back to our elders by entertaining them. We also organized fundraisers, such as a bake sale, book sale, raffle and restaurant fundraiser, to collect money for Ekal. By the end of 2013, we had raised enough money to support five Ekal schools ($1825) and we look forward to repeating this accomplishment this year! Thank you to everyone who has come to support Ekal and enjoy an evening of music and dance, and I hope you will inspire youth in your area to give back to such a worthy cause!


How Volunteering for EKAL Changed my Life

By Ashwin Sethi

 

            As a high school student, anybody can get involved in various extracurricular activates of one’s choice. However, involving oneself into charities can have an unexpectedly greater impact on any young individual.

 

            In High school, instead of joining sports, I chose to spend each year giving myself back to the community. Initially, I started off by volunteering at a library and soon I realized that I could do lot more. Therefore, in my junior year of high school, I joined a recently started group called IFMP Youth. The group had two primary objectives - to raise funds for “Ekal Vidyalaya” and to involve more youths in the community.  We recruited kids similar to us by asking a self-reflecting question: 'How much more does the money we raise mean to the villagers in India compared to us?' This must have been an eye-opener to many kids in our community. They not only joined our group and participated in fundraisers, but also donated the reward money that we received for our performance at the nursing homes, to “Ekal Vidyalaya”. We had many fundraising events throughout the year including the one at T.G.I.F. Restaurant where T.G.I.F. donated 20% of the pre-sales tax amount to “Ekal”. The main idea behind this was to bring families, friends and others together in fun manner and raise awareness about the Ekal. Some other fund-raising events where IFMP Youth were involved in included Holi celebrations, charity raffles, and setting up booths to promote Ekal Vidyalaya.   

 

               Although this community work required little time and efforts on my part they meant a lot more to the villagers in India.  During my visit to India last year, I noticed the slums and the uneducated who were forced to beg and barter on the streets instead of studying. This provided me motivation to do my part in the Ekal organization. Anyone can get involved in the Ekal Vidyalaya mission. I would like to encourage middle school and high school students everywhere to start their own youth groups to do small fundraising activities within their own community ….  Even a small step towards it goes a long way ….