Edison, NJ: Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation’s benefit concert by Sanjeevani Bhelande and group at the Vrundavan Temple Auditorium here on May 15 was a smashing success. Enchanting Sanjeevani not only took the audience down the memory lane by singing nostalgic melodies of Lata, Asha, Noor Jahan and Geeta Dutt, but also kept the listeners spellbound, so much so that the concert had to be extended by an hour on popular demand. Her enthusiasm to promote Ekal Vidyalaya’s noble cause had no bound. By evening’s conclusion, more than $175,000 was raised for Ekal schools, bringing the week’s total of New Jersey’s just three concerts (Cherry Hill, Mahwah and NJ) to $325,000. For $365 a year (dollar-a-day), an Ekal Vidyalaya school provides non-formal basic education and hygiene training to a group of 30 to 40 underprivileged children in tribal and remote villages of India, where many times there are no approachable roads or basic facilities. In that sense Ekal Vidyalaya derives inspiration from Swami Vivekananda who said: “If a child cannot come to education, let the education go to the child.”
Explaining the “Ekal Vidyalaya” project, Dr. Umesh Shukla, regional president of Ekal, informed the capacity crowd, that Ekal Vidyalaya was not only the largest literacy movement undertaken by the Indians and NRIs but also a recipient of the “Best NGO Organization Award” in 2008-09” for its transparency and administration. He further elaborated that there are over 27,000 Ekal schools in operation in tribal-remote areas, including Jammu-Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, where education is imparted without consideration of caste, creed or religion.
Prajna Khisti, NJ Chapter president, in an emotional appeal to the gathering lamented that “our success in this country is due to our education back home which is heavily subsidized. In other words, unknown to us, someone else paid for it. Now, by reciprocating the same helping hand to the needy children of India, we are only seeking our own salvation in small way.” To emphasis this point, she quoted Sir Winston Churchill who said, “You can make a living by what you get, but you can make a life by what you give.”
During the program, Late Shri Madanlalji Agarwala, whose pioneering efforts were responsible for “Ekal Movement,” was posthumously honored along with his present extended family for their exemplary contributions to eradicate illiteracy. Dr Veena and Sharad Gandhi, well known Philanthropists and life-long supporters of “Ekal” were also recognized for their community service and dedication to the literacy cause.