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©  Atlanta Dunia 


Ekal Vidyalaya’s Musical Fund-raiser “Sur Sangam” raises $40000!
By Rachna Gupta and Mahadev Desai
Photo credit Rajesh Khanna Photography

Each spring to summer’s end, Ekal Vidyalaya brings artists from India on a US national tour to raise funds for and to apprise people of the wonderful work that Ekal’s one-teacher schools are doing in educating and empowering rural and tribal India.

On Saturday, June 17, 2023, 350 Atlantans were in for a treat when Ekal’s talented artists from India, Vishwanath Batunge, of Sa Re ga Ma Pa fame and Nayana Sarma, together with a live band performed concert style “Sur Sangam” program at Impact Banquet Hall, Global Mall.

The event began with a delectable dinner prepared by Ashiana restaurant, and a cheerful welcome from Manju Tiwari, who emceed the event with verve and poise.

The well attended event was graced by Shawn Still, GA State Senator and his wife; Srikanth Gundavarapu, Atlanta Chapter President of SEWA International; Madan Ghildayal, Deputy Consul at the India Consulate in Atlanta; actor Arvind Vaidya, who played Bapuji in TV Serial Anupamaa. The guests of honor accompanied by Ekal’s Atlanta Chapter’s President Shiv Aggarwal and Ajay Upadhyaya, the EKAL Regional Vice President, lit the lamp.

Ajay Upadhyaya kicked off the music and songs studded program. The Sur Sangam group seamlessly wove through vintage, semi-classical songs and trending new numbers like “Teri mitti mein mil jaawaan”, “O duniya ke rakhwaale”, “Parda hai parda”, “Lag ja gale”, “Julie, I love you”, “Phool tumhe bheja hai khat mein”, “Dhum dhum Dhol baaje” among other soulful and foot-tapping numbers.

The romantic song “Badan pe sitaare lapete hue” appealed to Shawn Still and his wife so much that they couldn’t resist getting up to sway and dance to this catchy number! The photos do capture the mood of the crowd, yet doesn’t do full justice to reflect the high energy in the hall.

The DVDs and the slide presentation made by Rakesh Raheja showed the strides Ekal has made in rural/tribal education, health, empowerment and integrated village development reaching over 2 million students, comprising almost equal number of boys and girls, enrolled in nearly 83,395 Ekal schools across India!

In addition to the one-teacher schools, Ekal also runs Gramothan Resource Centers (GRC) where sustainable farming for high yield organic crops, vermiculture, home-based small businesses, computer literacy, tailoring, carpentry training and skill enhancement is provided. This visionary step generates income opportunities in the villages and prevents flight of rural youth to large cities in search of employment.

Atlanta volunteers, Harbans and Malti Singla sponsored one such GRC which is operational now. With the help of technology, EKAL has also made rapid progress in programs like E-Shiksa(E-Tablets), Telemedicine Enhanced Arogya, and mobile computer labs called “Ekal on Wheels”, all of which are geared towards overall Integrated Village Development. For more information, please go to ekal.org where sponsors can log in to check the progress of their schools and request a vanyatra to an Ekal school while on a visit to India.

Having been impressed with Ekal’s far-reaching work, audience members were quick to sponsor Ekal schools, which costs only a onetime payment of $365 but runs on behalf of and in the name of the sponsor for a whole year and within five years becomes self-sustaining. Ekal’s vision is to empower the villagers to take charge of their own growth and not look for permanent doles. This vision struck a chord with the audience and in one night 111 schools were sponsored.

The artists, sponsors, donors, dignitaries, media partners, decorators, volunteers from several organizations who worked tirelessly in the background were appreciated with thunderous rounds of applause.

VHPA, as always, lovingly prepared and served tea to boost energy in the audience which still wanted to continue to sway to the music, way beyond the 10:15pm planned closing. Due to its fervent request, the show with mesmerizing singing and dancing, continued till 11pm!

It was truly heartwarming that a musical evening which started as an entertainment program ended up with several magnanimous Atlantans joining the larger-than-life and transformative movement called Ekal Abhiyaan!

In summary anyone reading this article can get involved with Ekal as a volunteer and/or support it using any of the following vehicles and their goals.


' Aug-16-2023