Wednesday, January 29, 2014

‘A Visit to Cherish’ By Dhanayvadah, Nishank, USA

Like many supporters of Ekal Vidyalaya in USA, I too thought that Ekal does an excellent work of bringing school to students, thus making Swami Vivekananda’s dreams come true. However, I too was not aware that Ekal has also set a firm foot in non-tribal rural areas. Naimisharanya (in central Uttar Pradesh) being one of them.
In 2012, I met Dr Satheesh Kumar in Milpitas, California. While discussing about my ancestral place Sitapur, Dr. Satheesh informed me about the Ekal Vidyalaya in Naimisharanya. I was pleasantly surprised that someone in USA even knew about such a place. Despite being a major place in Hindu history as well as religion (Naimish is mentioned in Satyanarayan vrat, Mahabharat as well as in Ramayana, also is one of 108 Divyadesam for Vaishanavas), Naimish never got its fair share. Stripped bare of any kind of industry, agricultural or tourism, Naimish area must be one of the most poor and desolate places in central UP. On Dr Satheesh's insistence, I made up my mind to visit Ekal in Naimish on my next trip to India.

I finally got the opportunity just last week, with the assistance of the District Coordinator Shri Suresh Gupta, (contact on and Shri Brijesh Singh, Regional Coordinator for Naimish. While my family and I were regular visitors to Naimish temples, Brijeshji along with Munshilalji ensured that we reached safely and had proper directions to each destination within Naimish. Since I was traveling with my whole family, as is customary, it added to delays at various places. However, I must appreciate the patience of Brijeshji, who was very accommodative without any sign of inconvenience throughout the day. He informed us about various schools in Naimish and different projects being started. We visited the nearby school in Kuan-mau. The school is attended by 40 children of different age groups. We reached just in time to catch school in action with Acharya ji (as a matter of pride, the Acharya was a young girl!). The school timings are 3 to 6pm and runs in the courtyard of teacher's home. On our arrival, the students presented skits, poems, jokes, shlokas, confidently displaying their ken. The children are very enthusiastic and communicative. My father and brother who were exposed to Ekal for the first time were deeply impressed with the whole affair. Though I know about Ekal much, wasn’t expecting any surprise, but I must agree that the experience of visiting Ekal Vidyalaya personally can never match any words. Brijeshji had also invited various village residents along with Gram Pradhan. The effect of Ekal in village was very obvious and villagers were visibly appreciative of the effort.

We interacted with children and villagers for some more time and finally bid adieu. It was a very memorable evening and moments to cherish. This personal experience has reinforced my belief in Ekal movement. I returned back to USA with a firm resolve to promote Ekal and request my friends to visit Ekal schools.

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