Thursday, July 31, 2014

Ekal’s mission is unique by Sumant Iyer

(Sri.Sumnath Iyer is a young school boy from Los Angeles of USA. He visited Tamilnadu last month to be with Ekal for 7 days to understand what is Ekal, how Ekal works and what is its impact. He visited the villages near Coimbatore and Nilgiris. He had extensive interaction with the Acharyas, Students and Full Time Workers of Ekal. He has documented his observations.)

This was my long journey from my hometown of Los Angeles to an Ekal school in Gudalur, India. Often shrouded in forest, these are places where cell signal is a faint dream, and where the ever-reliable GPS is often incapacitated. Children walk several kilometers from their homes to these schools, with the prospect of changing their lives.

One of the things that make Ekal so incredible is the use of existing resources to efficiently run the schools. With minimal administrative, infrastructure and funds they try to deliver education to many more children. For example, rather than using a new schoolhouse, Ekal instead utilizes an existing building to serve as a school. Many schools, in fact are conducted outdoors, and one that I visited was even situated in the back of a temple. By giving some responsibility to the villagers, not only is some effort relieved from the organization, but also the villagers become empowered and involved. In many cases, after 5 years, enough responsibility is assumed by the village that the school is rendered self-sufficient, meaning Ekal funds are no longer required to keep the school running.

Another very admirable aspect of Ekal is its desire to ensure the welfare of the villagers in addition to education. One serious problem prevalent in villages throughout India is anemia, which is a condition that is caused by Iron deficiencies. The effects of anemia, especially in women range from fatigue and sluggishness to severe disability and even family disputes, due to inability to perform daily tasks. Those villagers who have been identified as anemic by Ekal volunteers are given non-invasive (Ayurvedic) treatments and diet recommendations. After one month, the hemoglobin levels and general health of villagers is improved greatly. Ekal truly cares about the welfare of the villagers and takes all the measures to ensure they live healthy and lead productive lives.

Ekal’s mission is unique because it starts with one school and then uses this school as an agent of change to transform the village. I highly recommend visiting one of these Ekal schools because seeing is truly believing. I was overwhelmed by the kindness and hospitality shown by the family that hosted me, Ekal volunteers, teachers, and children. The incredible thing is that it only requires a very small catalyst to change a village into a more productive unit. This is the vision that Ekal strives to bring to reality.

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