Funds Raised for 200 EKAL Vidyalaya Schools

 By Jayashree Phanse, Presto, PA


Jayshree PhanseJayashree, a resident of Pittsburgh for over three decades, is well-known within the Indian community because of her association with the temples and cultural activities. She was a high school teacher in Oakland teaching science, math and computers. She enjoys singing and listening to songs in Indian languages, golfing and social work.

Taking Swami Vivekananda’s exhortation, “If the poor child cannot come to education, then education must go to the child,” to their heart,  the EKAL Vidalia Foundation (Foundation of Schools with Single Teacher) has been striving to develop the villages by taking education to interior and tribal India. With the easily achievable goal of frugal literacy for $1/day, EKAL raises funds for training one teacher for a class of 20 to 30 children in the poorest regions of the country.

For raising funds, EKAL organizes concert tours with talented artists from the vibrant Indian TV’s reality shows in different cities of USA. This year’s artistes from Anand Dhun-Anand Swar — Anand Vinod, Vibhavari with Raj Parmar on the keyboard, Dhirendra  Dave on the tabla and J. Natu on octapad performed at the Chartier Valley Intermediate School  Auditorium on April 30, 2016 with over 500 in the audience.  They performed in over 60 cities in the US.

The program started on time with a Saraswati Puja and Moha Desai nicely rendering the Sarawati Dwadasha Naama Stotra.  This was followed by Shree Ganeshaya Dheemahi, and the Ekal theme song.

The artists had started their day at 5:30 am to take morning flight, but with the flight getting canceled, they ended up being driven by volunteers from New Jersey, arriving just half hour before the start of the program, with barely any time even to refresh themselves.

Anand Vinod is considered to be one of the Top-10 singers of Kishore Kumar songs. We had to just close our eyes and hear Kishore Kumar coming alive through Anand Vinod. It was indeed a great treat for the diehard fans of this great Bollywood legend. Anand also rendered Mohammad Rafi songs to entertain the Rafi fans as well.

Vibhavari Yadav, the winner of SaReGaMaPa Gujarat 2014 and the Nightingale award in Gujarat, with her pleasant, soothing voice, did not seem one bit tired after almost three hours of singing. Vibhavari presented film songs covering a range of moods sweeping the audience away with her melodies.

Raj Parmar was not only versatile on the key board but was also a good singer. He participated with the lead singers in presenting several songs including duets and group songs. His humorous quips kept the  audience attentive in the gaps between the songs.  J Natu on the Octapad also sang a smooth song by Mukesh and gave us a short drift in the main show. I must add that Dhirendra Dave’s tabla talent added zest to the program.

There was a short informative video presentation during the intermission filled giving an overview of the EKAL Abhiyaan movement. It was packed with information, taking us from the birth of EKAL through their 26-yeal long journey.  Extending itself beyond taking schools to the children and youth, EKAL tries to empower rural families using literacy holistically, on farming issues, health and hygiene, alcohol abuse.  India’s Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi recognized EKAL for having trained more than 52000 teachers educating more than 1.5 million children throughout the remote areas of the country.

The younger generation of Pittsburgh is also donating to this cause, recognizing that the education they have received is a privilege and not a birthright. On this day EKAL received donations for more than 200 schools.

Amazon Shoppers can also participate by choosing EKAL as their choice charity at The entertainment continued till about 11 pm and ended with the Jana Gana Mana displaying the Patriotic element in EKAL.

The first EKAL in Pittsburgh in 2004 conducted at the Hindu Jain Temple with 75 people in the audience and raised money for five schools.  This year, funds were raised for more than 200 schools, each receiving $365.  Ekal’s Pittsburgh supporters have come a long way.  ♣


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