AP NEWS

Group holds Stamford fundraiser to support education in rural India

April 26, 2018 GMT

STAMFORD — The sounds, dances and cuisine of India will be coming to the city to benefit the education of people living in rural areas of the South Asian country.

The Ekal Connecticut chapter is throwing its annual Ekal Charity Fundraiser at 5 p.m. Saturday at Rogers International School.

Ekal Connecticut is part of a larger national movement that aims to improve education in rural India. For every $365 donated, the group is able to run a school in rural India. The group finds buildings to use for free and hires teachers with the money raised.

“This is a charity organization who supports education for the rural and tribal part of India,” said Ashok Jha, lead Ekal Connecticut volunteer. “We throw (a fundraiser) every year to support education there. There’s going to be food and a concert. It’ll raise funds for the less fortunate.”

The Connecticut chapter reports 400 local schools and the organization as a whole has 1.8 million students enrolled in 67,000 schools across India and Nepal.

The Connecticut chapter of Ekal was started 10 years ago and has more than 50 family volunteers.

“We want to spread the word for education,” Ekal Connecticut volunteer Nita Singhal said. “We want each and every person to be educated so they can get above the poverty line.”

Singhal added students not only get a basic education, but are taught skills like sewing so they can make a living.

The fundraiser on Saturday will feature an Indian music concert. Dancer Aditi Bhagwat will perform a classic Indian Kathhak and Kunal Om will join her in a fusion dance combining a flamenco.

The performances are preceded by a hotel roundtable-style Indian dinner. Child care is also available.

According to Singhal, each year’s fundraiser has a different theme such as 100 years of Bollywood.

Ekal teachers and volunteers come to America to perform at different chapter fundraisers over the course of several months.

“It was very connecting because they were from the grounds where the EKAL schools are from,” Singhal said.

The charity fundraiser is EKAL Connecticut’s largest event for the year, but there are also a 5K run and bake sales as ways to bring awareness. While Singhal said most of the members of the group are Indian, they draw support from all over the community. Last year’s fundraiser generates more than $100,000 for the group for more than 275 schools.

“Everyone has to be educated,” Singhal said. “The role of education is so important. You need to spread education to everybody. The more you spread, the more you gain.”

For tickets to the fundraiser, visit https://www.EKAL.org/us/ticket/stamford. For more information, contact Nita Singhal at 475-200-0198 or ekalct@gmail.com

erin.kayata@stamfordadvocate.com; (203) 964-2265; @erin_kayata