Ekal Vidhyalaya Foundation, Australia, celebrated its 10th anniversary on 26 July. The cultural potpourri had all the delectable flavours of India showcasing the talent of 120 local artistes. Success in any venture requires single-minded attention to detail and total concentration and the Ekal team had only one goal—to raise maximum funds to inch closer to the dream of sponsoring 1,000 schools by the end of 2014. While the platinum sponsor for the program was St. George Bank, other philanthropic businesses and members of the community sponsored the raffle prizes.
The evening started with the auspicious lighting of the lamp by Sunjay Sudhir, India’s Consul General in Sydney. He was accompanied on the stage by Paul Fletcher, Parliamentary Minister for Communications, the current President Devendra Gupta and the founding President of EVF Australia Nihal Agar. This was followed by Ganesh Vandana in praise of Lord Ganesh, the eradicator of all obstacles. The dance was presented by Natya Darshan.
The performances that followed kept the audience enthralled. They could not stop themselves from cheering loud after every performance. The performers included Ruchi Sanghi Dance Company, Mayur Indian Dance Academy, Sanskriti School of Dance, Lotus Dance Group, Rhythms of India, Mystic Bollywood, Bass Bhangra and Shaimak Davar Dance Group. Mukesh Rao and group presented a skit. Saleem Zaman had the audience asking for more after he sang three Hindi golden oldies. The young talented artist, Mili surprised the audience of nearly 800 people as she displayed her exemplary painting skills live on stage.
While the President of EVF Australia Devendra Gupta quoted Confucius as he reiterated the importance of education and the need to make the children of rural and tribal India independent and self-reliant, the Consul General spoke passionately about the role played by EVF Australia and similar NGOs towards Indian Government’s aim of providing education to all in moving towards a more literate India. Paul Fletcher said he was delighted to be aligned with an organisation like EVF, Australia.
Ekal Vidhyalaya Foundation (EVF) came into being in 1986 when a group of young educationists started ‘single teacher’ schools to educate the children in the tribal regions in the dense forests of Jharkhand. This unique yet simple and effective concept soon became popular and more and more schools came into being. To formalise this movement, EVF India was established in 2000-01 and today with global support sponsors 54,000 schools in the remote areas of India.
The teachers in these schools are educated local youth who are given special training and tutor classes of 30 to 40 children not only with the rudimentary skills of reading, writing and arithmetic, but also engage them in character building activities, cultural awareness and health and hygiene. This impacts the lives of their parents and the other elders in the community.
The hard work of the volunteers paid off as EVF Australia received sponsorships for 31 new schools during the course of evening.
EVF encourages members of the community to personally visit the Ekal Schools when they are in India and experience firsthand “the difference this ‘people’s movement’ is making in the lives of the villagers on a whole and the children in particular”. EVF, Australia, facilitates the school visits.
Encouraged by the response to the 10th anniversary celebration EVF Australia has called upon more members of the Australian community to support their cause and sponsor schools in India.